Unlike old Bob Fulghum, I didn't learn so much there
Anyway, during our conversation, she told me of how her little boy had just begun kindergarten, so both Mom and kid were now at school. I thought that was nice. You know, just ‘nice’.
The conversation also put me in mind of the fact that I once went to kindergarten. Not a bad thing in itself except that I didn’t fully appreciate that KG was just the kickoff of a grand total of 17 years of formal education that were to follow.
Therefore, I offer you an excerpt from my yet-to-be-published book which, in this case, concerns my kindergarten career. I hope you enjoy because, when the day comes that it appears on bookstore shelves, I do hope you ‘buy.’
My so-called ‘formal’ education began around the time the family moved into the new house on Price Street. By ‘formal’ I only mean that I had to be there. My cherished free time – and it had theretofore all been free time – was abruptly truncated by the loss of a few hours each weekday morning. I didn’t realize that this was the beginning of a reality that would dominate my life from the age of five to the age of twenty-four. Only I can judge if I learned anything in the process. I’m still uncertain as to whether those nearly twenty years were as well spent as they might have been. Probably not. Maybe definitely not.
My initial place of learning was known as Valley View Kindergarten and it was held in a little community hall a block or so away from my grandparents’ house, around the area that’s now occupied by the municipal hall and Burnaby Central Secondary. It was right across the street from Ross Hicks’ house, but that would pinpoint it only if you knew Ross Hicks and where he lived.
Valley View was a place to which a bunch of tiny tykes were sent off to spend three hours each day away from their mothers in order to gain a smattering of independence, and to also learn the rudiments of jungle gym use, naptime, learn that graham crackers were a paltry substitute for regular cookies, and how, though not why, girls and boys have different bathrooms.
In those days kindergarten wasn’t compulsory, but my mother sent me anyway, saying it was good for me, but primarily, what with a new baby and all, to get me out of her hair. I don’t really blame her.
I don’t remember much about kindergarten, and I’m not certain I learned anything of lasting value, unlike Robert Fulghum it seems. I remember how one particularly terrible kid was locked in a back room after he threw an apeshit tantrum and started kicking the teacher. Secured in the back room (which was only separated from where the rest of us sat by glass French doors), he cried until he vomited. I also got my first girlfriend at kindergarten. I’ll choose to let her remain nameless, but she had a cute little Prince Valiant haircut and came from a family of God-fearing folk who spent a lot of time perusing the Good Book. I would sometimes walk home with her through the woods, just like Hansel and Gretel. Sometimes we would hold hands, but our acts of intimacy never progressed beyond that.
I also remember one nap-time in which I, in my repose, realized that I could see right up to the top of the long legs of the teacher standing above me. For some reason I liked that, though I was unsure as to the ‘why’ at that time.
That was about it as far as my kindergarten career went. That educational interlude did it for me, and I was happy when it was over. Somehow it had become lost to me that kindergarten was only the beginning of a compulsory process designed to take much of the bliss out of my life and to send me in directions I didn’t think I wanted to go.