Kindergarten, Captain Kangaroo and Culture Shock
I recently saw a writing prompt that took me back a very long way. Kindergarten. That’s really ancient history in my case. My kindergarten experience was odd, yet wonderful.
My mother married her 3rd husband the year I turned 5. I liked him very much. They met at the factory they worked in. We lived in a small 1-bedroom apartment over a garage in town. I’d slept on the pullout sofa since he moved in.
Kindergarten wasn’t required back then as it is now. There wasn’t even a kindergarten class available in the public school we lived near. I was an avid fan of books, Captain Kangaroo and The Micky Mouse Club. I knew about school and couldn’t wait until I was old enough to go. It was disappointing having to wait another year.
|good old Captain Kangaroo and Bunny Rabbit
Then something wonderful happened. Both parents were switched to 3rd shift. Working 11pm to 7am meant taking care of a 5 year old was going to be a problem. I recall lots of discussion about what to do with the kid.
I don’t remember any of the details, but this became life altering for me. Apparently my great aunt Barb’s sister-in-law and husband, who were probably in their 60’s, offered to take me. I had never met them and neither had my mother.
I loved aunt Barb, who I was named after. I suppose everyone just expected it would be fine to move me out to the country. That was one move I have never regretted.
I suffered a bit of culture shock when I first arrived. I had never had a big yard to play in. Even my grandparents lived in the city then. The house was so beautiful I was afraid to touch anything. It wasn’t palatial by any means, but so pristinely inviting.
There was a vase of flowers on the kitchen table. I knew they must have come from the beautiful flower garden I’d seen next to their driveway. I could smell fresh coffee and the wonderful aroma of warm muffins. A clock on the living room mantle startled me when it chimed on the hour. I grew to love that chime.
It took me about two seconds to fall in love with my bedroom. It was the most beautiful room I had ever seen, and it was mine alone. The house was a Cape Cod style and my room was up under the eaves. The ceiling sloped on both sides and there was a nice sized window at each end.
There were twin beds so I alternated beds for a while until Minnie, the lady of the house, told me I had to choose one because she wasn’t interested in washing extra sheets each week. I complied.
The biggest shock was my first breakfast there. I was used to making my own cereal or just sitting in front of the TV eating it out of the box. My mother wasn’t a morning person and I didn’t mind it.
I woke the first morning to the smell of coffee and something else that made me salivate… was it pancakes? I ran downstairs and stopped dead at the kitchen door.
The table was dressed in a pale yellow cloth, the flowers were in the center and there were 3 place settings. Each place had a small glass of orange juice, a plate, silverware and a cloth napkin. Wow. I’d seen something like that in a movie once.
Minnie was humming at the stove, Delmar (her husband), was sitting at the table holding a chair out for me. I haltingly walked in and sat down. Was I dreaming? The entire scenario was like a beautiful assault on the senses.
The only problem I could find was the missing coffee cup from my place at the table. When I asked for one they were shocked.
“Oh honey, you’re much too young for coffee!” Minnie said.
I informed her that I’d been drinking coffee since I was 2 years old and would truly love a cup right now. She wasn’t going to relent, but Delmar gave her a little nod and she asked me what I’d like in it. I showed her how my grandmother fixed it for me. She relaxed a bit when she realized my idea of coffee was primarily coffee flavored sugary milk.
As I stuffed my face with pancakes Minnie told me they were going to get me registered for kindergarten that day. Now I knew I must be dreaming!
“REALLY?” I screamed.
This was amazing to me. You can’t imagine the true sense of culture shock I experienced in less than 48hrs. I was on cloud nine!