• Adam Christian Smith

But Then They Sent Me Away, To Teach Me How To Be Sensible, Logical, Oh Responsible, Practical 1978

Amongst my longest and dearest friends I am known as the one with the best memory.

So I’m gonna sit down and spill out what I remember from kindergarten at Benson Hill Elementary in 1978.

Ms. Adametz and Ms. Pfister. I was in the morning kindergarten class and we had two teachers! These memories will focus around the classroom in the school, because no matter how good ones memory is… Something that happened over 40 years ago it’s hard to differentiate in the timeline!

The first thing I remember the first time I walked in to the kindergarten classroom, was a big round of wood, with many nails and a hammer on it. Even at age 6 to me it seems like it didn’t belong there. Before the day was out though, I was hammering nails into that sucker!

Thinking about it now, I can’t believe I was confident enough to do that, and to take a nap outside of my home! The teachers were extraordinary, and I definitely felt comfortable.

I remember the first day, when they did rollcall. My last name is Smith. In an important early lesson, there was a Meghan Smith in my class. The first thing I asked my mom when I got home was if I had to marry her… Because we had the same last name. Luckily I was steered straight, I was not ready for such a commitment. Even with the reassurance, I suspected maybe it might still happen.

Then there was a girl who with whom I’d have a crush on all the way through high school, which at the time seemed like a whole lifetime. If I ever get to fifth grade of these memoirs, all will be revealed!

I now know at this age that there’s a phase that all boys go through. For some reason we are interested in pirates and dinosaurs. There was one boy in my class who clearly was interested in dinosaurs, so much so that he acted more like a dinosaur than a boy. I remember watching him at recess creep around with his little Tyrannosaurus rex arms. It wasn’t necessarily scary, but I wasn’t sure if he knew that he was not a dinosaur. Now it’s funny to think about all of the imaginary things he was chasing down and terrifying with his slow steps and muted roars

On the playground at recess, I guess I fell in with the more sporting of the kids. We invented this game that was played on the jungle gym. You could’ve probably already guessed that we called the game “Poop Monster.”

It was just an elaborate game of tag, with a little extra cruelty mixed in and a healthy excuse to chant, “Poop! Poop! Poop!“ at whoever was it. The Poop Monster stood in the sawdust covering the ground under the jungle gym. The rest of us had to remain on the jungle gym.

Remember, kindergartners are short. as we cheerfully chanted, the poor person down in the “poop pit“ was trying desperately to tag anyone. You can imagine the shrieks of terror/delight as the only way to avoid the touch is to lift a limb. And if you imagine yourself on top of a jungle gym, you really can only lift one limb at a time. I can only imagine how good of a work out this was. I could probably use a little bit of that once a day currently. I like to think that this was a precursor to breakdancing.

It truly was an excellent game and had we named it anything other than what we did, it would’ve lost most of its charm. There’s nothing scary about getting tagged and becoming a dinosaur down in the dinosaur pit. Losers outs is always the best way in sports.

I’m sure we were asked a handful of times by the playground supervisor to change the name of the game, instead we just chanted more quietly… Which probably made it even more sinister. A poop cult.

There were also metal rungs on the playground

. I remember the first time I was able to cross all 12 of them without letting go. When I first started out I could only make it two or three steps down the line, and it wasn’t so much weakness as it was ones hands started to hurt from gripping. Then, one of the innovators discovered the faster you go the less time you have to hang.

Sometimes we’d watch a short movie or we would be read to. Often times we would be served a snack, to this day macaroni and margarine is a comfort food. It would be served into our little Dixie cups. i’m pretty sure I asked for seconds every time. Can you imagine this happening today? Lawsuits.

Ringing the classroom along the ceiling was the alphabet. The alphabet had each letter, and each letter had a character that went with it.

I can’t remember any of them except for the letter M. Mr. M with the munchy mouth. They all had a little ditty or rhyme to help you remember. I remember being handed a stack of cards with the letters on them, and on each card had a magnetic strip. You could feed it through the player, and it would play a little song or rhyme for each letter. I remember discovering you could record over the magnetic tape, I don’t know who next listened to one of the ones that I recorded over. I wish I could’ve seen the look on their face.

There was also three giant buckets of paste. And before you go nuts from wondering, of course I tasted it. What is it that made it so irresistible? It did not taste good, I don’t recall getting high off it… Of course the paste didn’t work very well either for a affixing things. Trade-offs.

Well, there’s more, but I think that’s all that’s fit to print.

What was your kindergarten like? Did you huff magic markers? Will you serve snacks? Did you have the weirdo who thought he was a dinosaur?

Thanks for stopping by.

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