My Jordyn is starting kindergarten this year. I can’t believe the little monkey is five already, but she is. It seems like only yesterday that she was born. I suppose I will saying that for many, many years to come.
I don’t really remember going to kindergarten much. My parents registered for for two different years of private kindergarten, and I do remember going some when I was four and five. I also remember when I was four and I went streaking at Little Big Top in Troy… and went home with a note pinned to my shirt. I suppose that is a story for another day.
When I think about kindergarten, I think more of when my brother Matt started school. He is five years younger than I, so I started fifth grade at the same time that he started kindergarten. We rode the bus to school, and I made sure he sat with me. I felt some sort of need to protect him at the time. Sure, I was fine with beating the crap out of him at home, but I had to make sure that nobody else did it. (For those of you that know Matt… I was bigger than he was at the time. It wasn’t until he hit his mid-teens that he outgrew me.) When the bus driver assigned us different seats, I am pretty sure I lied to her and told her that my mom was going to be pretty ticked off because she wanted me to sit with him. I suppose the threat of an angry parent was enough to scare the bus driver into submission because she put me and Matt in the same seat.
On the first day of school, I remember my mother making a huge deal over Matt. She asked him dozens of questions, and I stood there silently while I was ignored. I sulked masterfully, and then Matt made The Proclamation.
“Guess what, Mom? I learned to read today!” he exclaimed. Sure enough, he produced a purple mimeographed piece of paper that he had colored. At the bottom of the page was one sentence, and he read it to her.
Oh, crap! My world was sinking. All along, I had been the Smart One. Kim, our sister, was the Responsible One. Matt, as the baby of the family, was the Youngest One… and I was the Smart One. (Also, the Lazy One, the Disobedient One, the Rebellious One, the Lying One, and in later years, the Tattooed One… but always the Smart One.) Suddenly my world was topsy turvy… Matt had learned to read, and he did it on his first day of kindergarten!?!??! If I was no longer the Smart One, who was I?
We went by the hospital on the way home that afternoon to see my grandmother. I am not sure what her ailment was, but I don’t remember it being too bad. As we got out of the car, my mom poured salt all over my wounded heart when she said to Matt, “Hey, Matt, why don’t you show Mom-mom how well you can read when we get to her room?”
“Okay, Mom!” the little turd said happily as we got out of the car. Of course he was happy… he had taken my throne!
As we crossed the parking lot, Mom looked down at Matt and realized he was empty handed… the purple mimeogrpahed sheet was still in the car. (Have I mentioned that he hadn’t even done that great a job coloring? I am pretty sure that I remember stray marks all across the lines. How could he read when he couldn’t even stay in the lines?)
“Matt, you don’t have your sheet!” Mom said.
Matt quickly replied, “It’s okay, Mom…. I can read it without it!”
Hallelujah! The little turd could memorize, but he still couldn’t read! I was still the Smart One.
Don’t tell him this… but twenty-five years later, I still am. For real… don’t tell him. I may be the Smart One, but he is the Big One, and he could kick my butt if he got mad enough.