Monday, December 14, 2009

A Kinder Lunch


We are uniformed and uninformed in the ways of lunchroom politics. We are, after all, only five years old. I only turned the big 0-5 less than 10 days earlier. We have ridden a bus all the way to St. Michael's from our homes. Those homes seem to us so very far away in miles and in hopes of comfort. We rode by ourselves with the big kids who go to Catholic school. I am the only one of my big Catholic family who will make this trek each and every day. The three older ones walk the three, four blocks to the public school. If my mother thought she could make it seem like I was special, she's got another thing coming. I have been banished, a long and loud bus trip away from her and from those people I don't normally want to be with, my brothers and sister. On this day and in the coming days, I would give anything to have one of them with me on the bus.

It is the first day of kindergarten. Where we have moved, there is no public kindergarten, which explains my presence on the bus. There is no sense of familiarity when the bus arrives at its destination. Yes, we attend church each and every Sunday at St. Michael's, but it is pre-Vatican II and church is a place of fear for little kids. And I am a little kid, even if I have turned 5 a whole 10 days ago.

Diana Forcier is in my class. She is my best friend. Our last names are close enough in the alphabet -- or so I am told by my mother before I am shipped off on the bus -- that it is likely we will sit very near each other if not right next to each other. Rats, this nun decides to go with first names instead of last. And I am going to be "Patricia" for the remainder of my kindergarten career. Sister What-was-her-name could care less that everyone who is anyone calls me "Patti." I clutch my new cardboard pencil box that much closer and I grip my lunch box closer still. I trudge to my desk in the fourth row in the third column. Sister says I need to remember my exact desk because if I forget, I will be punished.

I have never sat in one place for so long except on the long car trips from our new home in Virginia to our old home in Massachusetts. But sit, I do, until there is a time called "recess." Running around the playground, stopping only when Sister yells that it isn't proper for girls in skirts to run, I wear myself out. Snack comes next: graham crackers and milk. The milk is brought in on an old cart, each of us carefully doled out a cup of milk and two graham crackers. (Only I know that it is really only one graham cracker, broken in half, but I am already smart enough to keep my mouth shut about sharing such useless information lest Sister become annoyed with me again.)

Later, during our penmanship lesson, a deafening bell rings. A girl named Julie screams in alarm. What a baby! Sister shouts at her. Then Sister has us all pick up our lunch boxes and walk single file to the lunch room. I will get to sit with Diana! Rats, no I won't. Sister has us sit in the same order she first seated us in the classroom. I am across from Diana! Hooray! We kick at each other with our black polished shoes under the table. I open my hand-me-down lunchbox. It is worn to the point that no one could possibly make out the design. That suits me just fine because it used to be my oldest brother's lunchbox.

[Another {W}rite Challenge thing-a from the fabulous Mrs. Flinger at her ning-a. "Take 15 minutes to write about your elementary school lunch. Describe. Remember. Smell. Touch. Who is there? Where are you? What are you eating?"]

[And that was, in fact, 15 minutes of writing, although I don't know how well I met the challenge. Perhaps it is obvious to the reader that I've no clue what I had for lunch in elementary school? It's true. Beyond knowing the sandwich was a PB&J or, by third grade, a Fluffernutter, I've no memory of it. And, having attended four different elementary schools, you can bet the characters changed as frequently as the locale. But those early days of kindergarten at that place? Yeah, I remember those.]



[Photo courtesy St. Mike's.]




8 comments:

Liz@thisfullhouse said...

This was hard to for me, too. I did not enjoy elementary school and guess that's why I can't remember much beyond, you know, the bad stuff.

However, I do remember PB&J :)

Well done.

mayberry said...

Wow! You said so much in 15 minutes.

mamikaze said...

you painted a vivid picture of that Kindergarten day.

Steph. said...

You still gave a clear picture of your experiences and did it in an interesting way. GOOD JOB!

Jomama said...

Good Job. I would need a few more years of therapy before being ready to write about my elementary school lunch experiences. Couple of snippets to share...lunch in my hair (only Asian kid in the school), and pushing all the lunch meat to the far side of the sandwich. This way I could have pure bologna to eat when I was done with the rest of my "sandwich".

Stillie said...

I love this, and I love the link to Write of Passage! I'm going to do some of those!

Oh, the horrible things our elementary teachers did to us. Penmanship?! Ha! I wish you could see how my students "write." I remember practicing my letters and taking such pride in my BEAUTIFUL lower-case "g"s.

Kim said...

Wow that was really well written! I pictured it all very easily and really, I'm glad I didn't go there!

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Hmmm. Catholic school. We face that decision for our kids soon. Don't know if I can balance the good with the bad I experienced.

Rides to Heaven on a Gyroscope

A couple of months ago, I saw a client I hadn't seen for a number of months. Like more than a dozen people have in the recent past, she ...