I was always confused with whom and what I wanted to be when I was growing up. I blame my mother for it. I love her to death, but the first day of kindergarten I wore a red sweatsuit with a rainbow dinosaur on it. Day two: she dressed me in jeans and a “Homie Don’t Play Dat” tee. Day three: Mama XD had me in a Mr. Rogers cardigan and some penny loafers. Mama XD just had no clue, but with love. I’m sure she subscribed to the idea that me being 5 years old I wouldn’t give a damn what the hell I looked like. Yeah no. Children are very judgmental. I know this because all I ever really needed to know about life, love, and the darkness of the human spirit I learned in Kindergarten.
My teacher Mrs. O, was a congenial lady with hair that resembled a birds nest. She sometimes smelled like bologna — a lesson I would take with me for a VERY long time. She taught us everything, well most of us. I already knew how to read so she would allow me and my best friend David to help the other students who needed extra help. David and I would help as much as we could, yet would get frustrated and call someone stupid when they couldn’t either spell or read the word “cat”. Kids are so cruel, but think about how often we berate someone on Twitter for their spelling and grammatical errors. Of course David and I would be sneaky about it so we wouldn’t get the green apples with our names on it turned over to the red side – the bad side. To top it all off, because we were the bomb at reading and spelling, we got first dibs on toys. Hell yeah! Excelling in education will get you some kick ass perks and some kick ass headaches.
I fell in love and was dumped in Kindergarten. Granted it was done all in the same week, but still. Whatever. Amanda just said we should just be friends and left me for Josh all the while Lindsay liked me from day one but I gave her no play. Love was complicated WAY before it needed to be. I should’ve learned then to steer clear of it, but I didn’t. I did learn not to trust blondes though –they’re heart breakers. Through it all I did learn tons about gender and race through socialization. I always had to be the father when LaKeisha wanted to play house. David wanted to be the father so bad but LaKeisha always said, “My Daddy ain’t White! This is not how it works!’ Yeah I know. Heavy right? I always wanted to go to the tea parties she would have but she said that daddies only go to work and come home…and that’s it. Regardless of how LaKeisha had the game full circle fucked up, she molded my ideas of having a relationship with someone of another ethnicity. I would always question why David couldn’t be the father, but LaKeisha, harshly, wouldn’t have any of it. Love and family should be for everyone I thought and I still do. She was the Mary Jones of my class. No one liked her anyway. She was hateful. She got held back.
The poster that my mother bought 20 years ago was right. Everything I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten. Everything from sharing to gender roles. Craziness how we never take a step to realize what an impact that grade had. Think back to your year in Kindergarten. Share your journey.