As the youngest child in my family, my experiences were different from my older siblings. This included the fact that I went to public school Kindergarten. My sister had gone to Naomi Thomas’ Kindergarten, held in the basement of her Falls Church, VA home. Naomi Thomas was a master teacher, mostly due to her firm, soft-spoken ways and her love of children. An oft-repeated quote from Naomi (I heard it from my mother many times.) was, “The happy child knows his limits.” Another way of saying boundaries help children feel safe, I guess. My sister remembers going there and falling in love with Allen Burt Christensen, as only kindergarteners can do.
Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was conflicted about Kindergarten. On the one hand, it meant I got to come home on the school bus with all the big kids in the neighborhood. I would get to go to Tuckahoe Elementary School, a school held in high esteem in the community, at least that was the impression my family gave me. Tuckahoe had an awesome playground. But it meant that I didn’t get to go to Naomi Thomas’ kindergarten. I had always thought I would get to go to Naomi’s. Once Kindergarten was offered in the public school, Naomi closed her little school. That must have been a sad day.
Another reason I was conflicted about Kindergarten was that my best friend, Richie, who lived across the street, was not allowed to be in my class. Whether it was the parents or the teachers who decided we were too dependent on each other, I’m not sure, but it was decided that we needed to be in separate classes. We had played together everyday of our lives since we were able to toddle. So Richie went in the morning and I went in the afternoon. I didn’t understand that. There were a lot of things I didn’t understand about Kindergarten. Such as the time Mrs. Huff had us sitting in a circle and a classmate yawned. So I yawned, but I got in trouble for it. Mrs. Huff was beautiful and I really didn’t want to disappoint her, but I didn’t understand why a yawn offended her so. I think I get it now. Maybe that yawn was just a little dramatic.
I don’t remember much else about Kindergarten, except that we had a May Day celebration and the fifth graders got to dance the Maypole. That’s how we always said it, “dance the Maypole.” It was always beautiful with colored streamers and flowers on top. The students did an intricate dance which ended with them weaving in and out until the whole pole was covered with a braid of colored streamers. Every class did something on the program. I think the Kindergarteners wore big flowers on their heads and danced to Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers.”
A little nostalgia on a Monday night. I wonder if any proofreaders out there noticed that I’m trying to break the two spaces after a period habit. I wonder what others think about that.