We trailed off near the end of my first day of kindergarten (see here for part 2). I can’t recall the specifics in Ms. Cloutmuther’s speech, but I definitely remember the positivity. I’d never encountered that. My lack of life experience played a part (gimme a break, I was four turning five…), but the classic refugee family chaos also took its toll. My parents’ lives were chaotic, which stressed them out. If you’ve lived with anybody who’s that stressed, you’d understand that stress behaves infectiously—that effectively transferred onto me. This lady’s positivity had a similar effect though! Turns out, positivity transfers too—not universally, but well enough to mention here… Her mood definitely helped counteract the negativity I dealt with. More peculiar though was her patience. She welcomed a headache of (roughly) twenty toddlers and their anxious parents without resentment or exasperation. Wait, have you ever interacted with toddlers before? If you haven’t, though I can’t truly describe what it’s like, I’ll try…
There’s a good reason why I pluralized a collection of toddlers as a “headache.” Speaking with a toddler parallels arguing with a conspiracy theorist:
- Both are loud and intrusive.
- They lack empathy.
- Both are adorable.
The key difference lies in how your conversation ends:
Toddlers generate hope. They’re adorable in the “Aww, how cute! They have so much potential! I need to make sure that I don’t mess this up because this truly matters.” kind of way.
Conspiracy theorists are adorable in the “AGH, how cute… [redacted]… None of that mattered.” kind of way…
I hope that helps…
That positivity and patience made a world of a difference in a room where most were refugees, and everyone—apart from Ms. Cloutmuther and her assistant teacher—lived below the poverty line… In hindsight, so much of that school amazes me—too much to discuss in one post, but I digress yet again…
After she’d organized the headache, she addressed the parents and convinced them to leave; that part felt like it took forever, but everything* takes forever when a minute feels like eternity.
*Except for recess. Time works differently when you’re enjoying recess. Time speeds up then. Now, I don’t know who to blame for this phenomenon, but once I find them I’d like a word with their manager…
After that eternity, we arrived at the one thing kids look forward to: RECESS! C’mon, what kind of kid doesn’t look forward to recess? Okay, perhaps I can think of a few reasons—bullying sucks, but most children look forward to that moment where everyone gets a break. Now, did I care that my teachers got a break? Absolutely not, I had more important priorities: 1-2-3 Homefree is no light matter. Participants stake egos on the outcome of this most honourable variant of tag. You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. To be fair, the ceiling of life achievements—at that point—was being complimented by an adult, staying up past midnight, or dodging a beating… Okay, maybe the game’s not as prestigious as I thought, but it felt like it mattered at the time (you had to be there to understand). I also thought all kids cared about that then. After all, everyone remembers everything they experience—they never forget!** Obviously, they’d remember something as exalted as 1-2-3 Homefree.
**This was a chronic misconception of mine. Thankfully(?) I’ve learned of the error of my ways since then…
Please join me next post for recess!
Thank you for your time,
Roybert S. Henanigans
Note 1: I’ve scheduled next post for 23:59 (EDT)-Wednesday, September 29. Its word count—as of this post—is between 500-600 words.
Note 2: I added my greeting and sign-off. The post felt off without it.