It seemed like a regular Friday. We had alphabet, milk break and recess just like every regular day. After recess we’d normally just sit and draw or play and wait to get ready for the bus. Miss McNanny announced after recess that we should each pick a partner for “something special”.
That was an easy one, Steve Mohr. He was the kid that came up to me on the first day of kindergarten and asked “Do you want to be best friends?” and I said, “Yeah.” It was then official, we WERE best friends so he was my pick and I was his. Simple, right? Nope. It turned out that Wanda McKnight’s (or maybe it was Wendy they were identical twins and I just called them both McKnight) twin was sick that day so she didn’t have a partner so she got put with us. Steve and I shrugged and welcomed her aboard for the “something special”.
The bus was ready to take us home so the “something special” was apparently “something secret” that we’d have to wait until Monday to find out about. I think I was learning so when Steve asked me all excited-like “what do you think this is all about” I had a genuine fear and my stomach got a hard knot in it and I just stared out the bus window wondering.
The weekend was mine and I did not even think about school. Saturday morning cartoons with super sugary cereal then exploring the woods or a construction site. The neighborhood kids were always around and even though they liked to tease me they’d always teach me something or make me laugh, too.
Monday morning rolls around and I think about feigning ill health in hopes that the returning twin would get put in my place but I couldn’t do that to my best friend. He’s surely counting on me. To the bus stop. *sigh*
The big announcement: We are going to put on a circus. The kids all cheered except for me and the 7 year old. This is going to be bad. Very bad.
Just before recess everyone gets their circus assignments. Two kids were told they were elephants and they went out to recess. Two were tigers and they got released to recess. The two clowns got sent to recess along with the lions and monkeys, etcetera, etcetera.
Steve, McKnight and I are last and we get our assignments. “You are going to be the seals.” says Miss McNanny. Great. I begin to walk out to recess sans all forms of enthusiasm.
“Hold on,” she says. “You’ve got to practice.”
“But I want to go play with everyone else,” says me and even Steve started to protest. No one else had to practice. Just me and those affiliated with me. They were jinxed by association, I suppose.
“Don’t you want to do something special? More special than recess?”
“Ummm. No?” and I look to Steve for backup. He shrugs and looks down.
Miss McNanny had us throw a ball back and forth and after she watches us do it she must have though I wasn’t a good at playing catch because she tells me “You’re going to be the SEAL TRAINER! 😕
Now I was only 4 but I wasn’t stupid. I knew there were elephant trainers and lion trainers but I had never in my life heard of a seal trainer. What in the world was this lady smoking?!? We were just a few years out of the 1960s but come on!
For the next TWO WEEKS Steve, McKnight and I didn’t have recess and I’m going to be honest I was angry like the neighbors cat that I tried to teach to swim by dunking it in their pool. Steve and McKnight had to perch themselves on milk crates and I had to tell them to throw the ball to each other. I did NOT have to be there. I could have been AT RECESS!!!!! They can throw the ball without me telling them. I was distracted by the gleeful screams and laughter which tauntingly echoed from the cement recess area from just outside the realm of the seal trainer. 🙁
I went through the “practice” day without recess in and day without recess out and on the last day Miss McNanny invited the kids in grade 1-4 to watch our final practice. It was a dress rehearsal so all the other kids got to walk in a circle with animal or clown masks on and the older kids all clapped. 😕 I was forced to wear a red paper hat and a coat that smelled like moth balls and bad breath and got a big bushy mustache taped under my nose. I looked just like the guy that used to sleep on the bus stop benches down town. He had a mustache and a stinky coat, too.
Then it was our turn and I was not about to perform for anyone so I refused. Miss McNanny pushed the ball to me and I pushed it back to her and crossed my arms. She kicked the ball and it swept my feet out from under me and I fell and all the older kids laughed at me. I tore my hat and mustache off and threw down the malodorous coat and went to the rest room and hid until the bus came.
On the next day we found out that Miss McNanny invited our parents to watch our Cirque Du ImbÃ©ciles. I was mortified. I already got laughed at once and I decided that was never going to happen again.
The other kids walked around the parents and received their applause and it was our turn again. Steve and McKnight had stockings over their faces and looked more like bank robbers than seals. I had on my torn up hat, mustache and smelly coat and I totally choked in front of the parents, I couldn’t even talk. I couldn’t even move. My mom was there and I froze. Miss McNanny had a little music maker that was playing circus music and I pretended to be interested in it so I wouldn’t have to do my act. She tried to shove me out. There was no way I was ever going to perform in front of people again in my entire life. I hid my face against the wall and only peeked out once when Miss McNanny took my place and told Steve and McKnight to throw the ball to each other.
The next school day was almost back to normal. Recess was again mine. I think Steve was a bit upset with me but we were still best friends. My mom didn’t disown me so it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen but I never could speak in front of people after that. I can still see those fat, dirty faces laughing at me when I get in front of people and I still freeze up.
Lesson learned: The clothes (and mustache) make the man into a nervous wreck.
Miss McNanny announces another special activity for the day. I know I should have not expected much but I was only 4 and I was kind of like a dog. I’d come back after being abused every time.
There were about 33 of us in class that day so Miss McNanny had us make two rows of seats across from each other. 17 on one side and 16 about 10 feet away facing the other seats.
The idea for the day was to teach us telephone courtesy. She had two standard rotary telephones and a small switch board to control them.
We sat down half on one side and half on the other. Miss McNanny put her seat at the end of the short line and worked the switchboard. The first two kids had the phones on their lap. One picked up and “dialed” and Miss McNanny made the other ring.
“Hello?” said the first kid.
“Hello, is Wendy there?” said the second.
“Would you like to come over to play?”
“Yes, I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
“Thank you, good bye.”
(Both hang up)
Giggles were heard all over.
The phones were passed to the next two kids. The other side got to dial and the other receive.
“Hi, is Jimmy there?”
(In a deep voice) “No, this is his dad.”
(Class erupts in laughter)
“Just kidding, this is him speaking.”
“I’d like to invite you over.”
“Ok, thank you. I’ll see you soon.”
“Thank you, good bye.”
I’m about the 13th on my side and I notice that my best friend Steve is directly across from me and I will get to call him. How exciting. We finally get our turn and me and Steve both have phones on our laps. It is my sides turn to dial.
I dial. I listen. (Busy signal) 😕
Miss McNanny says, “Pass the phone.”
“But I didn’t get to talk.”
“PASS THE PHONE!!!”
I pass the phone to the girl next to me but Steve doesn’t.
(She dials and Steve’s phone rings.)
“Hello, is Steve there?”
“This is Steve. May I ask who is calling?”
“This is Audrey. Want to have pizza at my house?”
“Yes, please. Thank you for asking.”
“I’ll see you after school. Good bye.”
Now I admit, pizza is a pretty good offer but I was going to ask him to pretend to come over and dig a hole to China or maybe break a toy truck or something really boy like. But he gets a fake date instead. 😡
Can someone explain how getting a busy signal taught me anything about phone courtesy? Singled out again.
Lesson learned: Even your best friend will leave you for a girl. Especially a girl with pizza.
Just before Christmas break Miss McNanny gave us a full day of recess. We were allowed to just play or take a nap or do anything we wanted all day long. It was pretty awesome especially to a bunch of 4 and 5 year olds (and one 7 year old that just couldn’t get out of grade K for some reason). For snack she brought us all a treat.
Wow, what is this? Something I’ve never had before. I looked at the box…hmmm? Popcorn? I love popcorn! Peanuts? Yummy!!! All covered in SUGAR?!?!? Heaven!!! and we each got a WHOLE BOX!
I savored each piece. Oh, man! What a treat.
Then I heard a buzz about the room.
“What did you get?” asked one little girl to another.
A bunch of “Ooh! Neat!”s and “Wow!”s were bandied about.
I had no idea what was going on. Then someone asked me what I got in my box. I happily exclaimed on a slight sugar high “Popcorn and peanuts all covered in sugar! GLEE!!! *drool*”
“No, I mean what was your prize?” she asked.
“Prize? What prize?”
She showed me her little plastic toy, if I remember correctly it was a red plastic charm for a necklace in the shape of a dangerously pointed star, you know something that just belongs near your jugular vein.
“I didn’t get a prize” I said through a droopy frown face and I sat down and tore my little box of empty goodness into little pieces hoping my prize was somehow hidden in one of the flaps. No dice.
One kid in all of history received nothing from a box of Crackerjacks and that was me.
After watching the others joyously playing with their wonderful prizes I got up the nerve to tell Miss McNanny about my dilemma.
“Miss McNanny, I didn’t get no [sic] prize” I almost sobbed.
“Are you sure?” she asked, “Everyone gets a prize in Crackerjacks.”
I showed her the pieces of my box and explained that it never left my sight so no one could have taken it without me knowing. It just wasn’t there.
“I think you’re the only person ever to get a prizeless box of Crackerjacks,” she mused.
My eyes teared up. (Hey, I was only 4!) Miss McNanny pulled me aside and said, “Here, you can have mine if you don’t tell anyone I gave it to you. They’ll think you got it in your box so don’t tell them any differently.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said. She winked at me and gave me a little pouch. I smiled back at her to let her know I was in on the big scam. “I won’t tell anyone,” I said.
I tore into the pouch and eyed my prize. It was a little clear green magnifying glass that didn’t really magnify anything, it just made things look green. *sigh* I ended up throwing it away with my torn up box and sitting down and sulked the rest of the day with the 7 year old kid. He was sulking anyway but just because that’s what he did. He didn’t have a reason.
I wonder how many other kids never got a prize in their Crackerjacks. Oh, yeah. Zero. It’s just me.
Lesson learned: People will always share if what they’re sharing is crappy.
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I’m going to go in a different direction on this one but here goes.
A few years back I worked with a crew of dorks that asked me why I act the way I do. Well, I really didn’t know what to say. I thought about it and decided to tell them some stories that happened to me during my up-bringing. They would laugh and laugh at the stories which was sort of depressing because they were all hurtful times in my early development and were 100% true. I will only tell one at a time and will try to keep them in chronological order but may tell a few out of order if I remember something that I tried to block out.
One day the teacher, Miss McNanny, told us that if we were all well behaved that we would have a special surprise at recess. In kindergarten what could be better than recess? Candy at recess, maybe? We were all on the edge of our seats waiting for recess. If someone even thought of misbehaving the others would grimmace at them until they sulked down into their seat. What could it be?
The bell rings and we all get our coats and head out to the recess area, which was a large covered cement expanse that reminded me of a fenced in parking garage. Where is the surprise? I thought it was a scheme to get us to all keep quiet and be good children. Pfft, next they’ll tell us that Santa is a lie.
Recess was about 5 minutes from ending and the teacher had us all congregate near the janitor door (I thought the janitor lived there because it said “janitor” on it). A lady with hiking boots came out backwards and stayed with her back to us. The teacher explained that we shouldn’t be loud or make any sudden moves when we see the surprise. The booted lady turned around and there it was! A live raccoon.
35 little gasps emitted from our little crowd. It was sooooo adorable and cuddly looking. The booted woman told us a little bit about it and that she was from “the zoo” (I didn’t know they kept people there, too) and then she asked if we wanted to pet it?
70 tiny eyes lit up with glee. She explained that we can each only pet it ONE TIME and ONE TIME only. Everyone took their turn. I waited patiently, so very patiently. Finally, it was my turn to pet the cute little fuzzy raccoon. As I reached to touch it, it turned its nose toward my hand to sniff…
“I SAID YOU CAN ONLY PET HIM ONCE!!!”, screached the booted harpy. I tried to say “I didn’t get to pet it yet.” but all I got out was “I…” and she disappeared behind the door marked “janitor”.
I got to live vicariously through the others by asking “Was it soft?”
Lesson learned: Disappointment comes in little furry packages.
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