Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sing it, Barbra!

Memmmm-'ries... like the corners of my school... when we started kindergarten... in the leafy 'burbs...

That's my lame segue into saying that Becky started kindergarten today and Sarah started second grade, both at the same school I attended. A lot has changed, of course -- buildings have been renovated and repurposed, and all the teachers I had are probably dead of old age or pretty close to it. There is now a preschool and an after-school program, ID cards for the teachers and bus passes for the kids, fences around the playgrounds, no more seesaws (fractured cervical vertebrae, anyone?), and even air conditioning in some places. And of course everything has shrunk. But every so often I see something specific that's exactly the same, like a concrete bench or a climbing structure that's survived on one of the playgrounds.

Then there are times that seeing something recalls a memory of a specific incident. For example, seeing the strip of classrooms next to the parking lot suddenly made me remember the buses lines up, angle-parking style, while we kids waited in line under a canopy that's no longer there. But more evocative was a place in what is now part of the after-school program. As I looked around, I stopped to imagine what it used to be -- a pair of kindergarten classrooms (one of them mine) linked by girls' and boys' rooms and the teacher's office off to one side. It made me remember the time in kindergarten when I went into the girls' room to pee, only to be somehow frightened by the fact that the water in the bowl was an opaque white (full of the janitor's Ajax, no doubt). I couldn't bring myself to use it, but I was too shy to explain things to my teacher, so I endured an increasingly full bladder and just told her I had a stomach ache. Eventually I was made to lie down on the floor of her office on my blanket while she called my mom to come take me home. I never told my mom the full story either. Don't know why they didn't just send me to the school nurse. I remember THAT one from first grade when they sent me to her office for some spare pants after I had gotten my pants wet from sliding down the playground slide right after it rained. The nurse immediately assumed in a loud voice that I had had an "accident." I should have told her that my kindergarten experience proved that I could hold my water, dammit.

Most of my education was enjoyable, but most people have had at least one Teacher From Hell like this charming fellow. I figure guys like this account for low test scores and know-nothing way out of proportion to their numbers in the faculty ranks, as I have to hope they are in a small minority.

Now, time for Science Yak! Can a falling cat spin rapidly in midair? Were cartoon physics and hammerspace perfected by Warner Brothers? The guy who drew these cartoons, who works for the Tampa Tribune, found my post on spam poetry and wants to use some of it in a newspaper layout of some kind. He promised to let me know when it runs, so stay tuned.

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