Sunday, August 23, 2009

Paradise lost

There was a trite little book circulating a few years back: titled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. It is a gimmick

Although much of my childhood years have faded from my memory, I still recall three valuable lessons which have served me over my adult lifetime -- memories recalled from my 6th grade year at Clifford Elementary School:

One day a kid running across playground knocked me down into the mud. I stood up and defiantly leveled a newly acquired insult in his direction. Pointing directly at him, I loudly denounced him a “F#*er”. A teacher quickly ran over to where I was scraping mud off my pants and insisted I immediately stop calling him that... name. Somehow it was me, and not the kid who knocked me down, who was now in Big Trouble. Later, after school after my Dad got home from work, he calmly informed me of the true derivation of the “insult” I had leveled on the school yard. Oops.

On yet another day all the girls were taken out of class and moved to a neighboring classroom. The boys from that class were ushered into ours. We were all a bit perplexed; a classroom of all boys? Before long the 16mm projector was wheeled into the room. When the lights went dark, we boys were shown an industrial film about how Bauxite is mined manufactured into Aluminum. It was pretty cool. Still, questions remained about why girls were deemed unworthy of knowing the secrets of Aluminum manufacturing… and what exactly what could possibly be going on in the girls’ only class? At recess we pressed the girls to reveal the secret. Though we hinted about revealing what girls might be able to do knowing the secret of Bauxite, they simply nervously laughed and ran away. Once again after school, it was to my Mother this time to whom I disclosed the mysterious event of the school’s gender-distinct instruction. Mother explained what the girls had learned. Oops

However the most difficult lesson learned was when a girl on whom I had a tremendous crush, Leslie, came into my class room. Back than teachers often communicated with each other by sending notes between class rooms, usually entrusting one of their favorite students with the task of courier. Beautiful Leslie entered the class room delivering one such communiqué to my teacher. She then headed back down the aisle to return to her class. As she approached my desk,
I stood, blocking her path, and seized with adolescent passion, both hands on her shoulders, looked her squarely in the eyes and I said: “Leslie, I love you.

The moment the words left my lips I knew instantly the impetuousness of my act had doomed me to a horrible fate. As the bell rang for recess, I walked out of the class into the bright California sun – whereupon I was surrounded by a cadre of 6th graders classmates taunting me with: “Leslie lover, Leslie lover”. My life was completely ruined.

I don’t recall coming out of 6th grade with a particularly useful set of social skill which I could apply to 7th and 8th grades. Junior high was actually more about learning playground survival skills than anything remotely to do with academics. -- But over the decades I eventually realized that I came away from my 6th grade with tangible life knowledge that would sustain me well during the remainder of my life: 1. Don’t use words when you don’t comprehend their meaning, 2. that love, painful though it may sometimes be, is what makes life worth living, 3. and Aluminum is cheaper to recycle than to manufacture from Bauxite.

1 comment:

kara said...

strangely that video makes me want to go shopping for feminine napkins. odd, that.