Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Life's Lessons From My First Day of Kindergarten, Part I.

Note one: This is me. We can be certain of this because I wrote "Robyn," erased it, and covered it up with "ME" in all caps and blue ink. Note two: Mom did lots of things well. Cutting my bangs straight was not one of them.  
~Kindergarten Photo, Kentwood Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA 1971.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I stood shyly next to mom in the huge room. Mrs. Henry was tall and sort of old looking, with a big dot on her left cheek. Mom called it a mole. She appeared nice enough, considering she would be my teacher for the whole year. I listened intently to her instructions.


It was my first day of kindergarten at Kentwood Elementary School, and I wanted to do everything right. I always did. I always do. The task involved walking to the front of the classroom. There, Mrs. Henry would fasten a pink apple shaped name tag to our clothes, just below the right shoulder. I needed to stand still while she did this. That’s all. Yet, I was scared. I knew I could do it, though. Mom was with me, and I was excited to be in school.


Robyn Engel. My name! My turn! I bounced proudly to retrieve my apple. I don’t remember the apple or the pinning, or if mom went up there with me. I remember only an outburst of laughter that slammed my gentle soul. I didn’t know why, but the parents were all laughing at me. Mommy didn’t explain, as I abruptly retreated to the back of the classroom behind her skirt.

Despite that jolting start, I proceeded to enjoy school over the coming days, years, and decades. I did exceptionally well from that day forward, through high school, college, and graduate school. I even aced my LCSW oral exams on the first round. I was so eloquently boring that they cut me off mid-sentence with an: “Okay, you’re done.”

“But, wait, I have yet to reference the San Francisco Consortium for Seniors Embracing Their Golden Years. And, and I was just about to inform you of the complicated dynamics inherent in a trans-racial, multi generational family system with a pregnant adolescent. She might be a cutter, you know. We’ve got to consider all risk factors.”

“You MAY be excused,” the examiner reiterated, with a glare of impatience that sent me speeding out the door. Jilted, I passed with flying colors.

...to be continued.

25 comments:

  1. You must have been a very gifted child, Robyn. I'm sure the parents were laughing nervously at the intelligence which penetrated them from your eyes. Your posts are feeding again, although in a slightly peculiar order.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think too many examiners are faced with someone saying their not finished. Most people want that oral exam over and are ready to run out the door. You obvously knew your stuff :0)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Straight Bangs or Crooked Bangs...I'd DO you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just find it amazing that you have such a detailed memory of even your earliest years in schooling. I'm only 30% sure I ate and liked paste in KG.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm impressed that you remember all of this too. I just remember the REALLY important stuff...like chocolate milk day. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  6. You were a smartie even then! Too bad you couldn't have started your blog at that point!

    ReplyDelete
  7. you would ace an oral exam..lol

    Why were the parents laughing? I need to know!!

    You need to link your new email so I can reply to in with my email.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I can see you being a smarty pants! My oldest is in kindergarten now. I love reading about what people remember from back then. You were adorable!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Michael, um, yeah, that comment made me wince. For the sake of Blase's status (as a non-pedophile), let me clarify that he meant now not then. Right, Blase? xo

    CB, the paste will do that to you. I didn't eat that stuff, so I remember these things. xo

    Babysis, my sibs and I referred to the LA Children's Museum as the "chocolate milk museum." We were allowed to order chocolate milk with our food there. Who cared about the exhibits! xo

    Thanks Kelley, PTM, BB, OT, Marnie, and GB.xo

    ReplyDelete
  10. I always knew you were a smart-ass....errrr...I mean SMARTY PANTS!!! Yeah, that's what I meant! REALLY! :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. You are such a smarty!

    lmao at Marlene

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have VIVID memories about my kindergarten days...they all revolve around my boyfriend who brought me flowers every single day. :) Really, he did. I would hide them on my teacher's desk until class was over because I was embarrased.

    Oh...and I need to know why the parents were laughing at you too!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Why do I get this feeling that "Michael" could be fooled very easily?

    ReplyDelete
  14. He's sweet and young. We're old and more jaded. At least, I am. xo

    ReplyDelete
  15. Those Bastards!
    It's great being a little kid, right up until the time that life and grownups start sucking the innocence out of us...

    ReplyDelete
  16. cute photo. great memory. i couldn't do that, way too old rose

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love the photo. Makes me think of being in Kindergarten in the 70's.

    ReplyDelete
  18. wow...smart and fab memory...all I remember is crying everyday till class ended...had people who laugh at kids specially yucky adults...hate them laughing at me even now...

    ReplyDelete
  19. Pat, so true. xo

    AFare, it's a fun decade to look back on. ;0)

    Rek, sounds like we had the same experiences with stupid people. There's no excuse for yucky adults. But the ones who laughed at us might just be dead now, and we're not. So there! xo

    ReplyDelete
  20. I can only imagine that the other parents were laughing with delight at such a diminutive little girl. I can't them as being cruel. Children yes. Parents no.

    As for the rudeness in people who interupt you by not letting you finish a sentence or thought, I too have endured such rudenss. I often wondered if my physical appearance had anything to do with the decreased level of respect I received from others?

    One day I had enough and demanded they allow me to finish with out interuption as I had already extended them the curtesy of being bored to death by not interupting them. They shut up and let me finish and I walked away.

    I don't waste time on rude and inconsiderate people anymore. There are too many people walking the face of this earth and that alone allows me to be selective.

    Some people say there is an art to communicating with others. I say being a gracious listener is a person of class! Big Big Hugs!~Ames

    ReplyDelete
  21. You are a tall, wise woman, Ames. Thank you! xo

    ReplyDelete
  22. How darling!! Love the photo.

    I am completely jealous of your accomplishments. In a good way, of course.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks Marla. The jealousy goes both ways, in good ways. You're the queen of a a big, loving family. That's a lot to be proud of.
    xoRobyn

    ReplyDelete