[In honor of this new school year - which, truly, has very little to do with me personally at this stage in my life - I'm starting a new series. Between now and the end of September I will share my recollections of Kindergarten through Graduate School. I've been told I have an exceptional memory. Buckle up.]
On the first day of Kindergarten, Mrs Tolken gives me a sticker for being a good participant in a class activity. For the rest of the day, I wear it prominently on the front of my blue and white romper. A classmate calls me the “teacher’s pet.” I have to ask my mother what that means.
I love our science lessons. I memorize the order of the planets (including Pluto) and watch chicks hatch from eggs in an incubator. We aren’t allowed to touch the eggs, but once the chicks have hatched we each get a turn holding one in our hands.
We learn about money using plastic coins replicating the real things. I’m stumped. I can’t keep track of what each coin is worth.
We practice using our coins in a small “shop” set up by our teacher. We have a minute to look around and then have to purchase an item of our choosing with exact change. I always get the plastic elephant because he is eleven cents: one small coin, one brown coin.
Then, I’m not allowed to buy the elephant anymore. I start accidentally dropping my coins on the floor when it is my turn at the register so I have extra time to count.
In the afternoon, we have to take naps. The teachers pull out pint-sized cots covered in the sheets our parents sent from home.
I never sleep at nap time. A teachers aide rubs my back to help me calm down. She finally gives up and we make a deal. If I wait until the other kids are asleep, I can sneak over to the teacher’s desk and quietly read. At my request, she supplies me with books about animals. I read about how sometimes sharks eat their own babies. I am terrified.