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.