Thursday, July 25, 2013

Recess Disappointment

Guess which one is me. That's right, the cute one.
Although I rarely get to take one, I love a good nap. That's why it's funny to remember how much I hated naps as a kid. I don't think it was the actual concept of random sleep that bothered me. It just seemed like an arbitrary, authoritarian attempt by adults to modulate my energy output. I hated to be the one to break it to them, but I didn't come an off switch.

My kindergarten teacher would feed us milk then make us lie on matts on the floor for thirty minutes. I don't know about the other kids, but I don't think I ever once slept during "nap time". It didn't help that Mrs. Cordish would spend this time busily puttering around the classroom, carefully stepping over the scattered, rag-doll bodies of her students.

I have a distinct memory of looking up her skirt as she did this. And I remember seeing bandaids way up on her inner thighs. Not the strips, but those little round bandaids. Two on one side and one on the other. Yeah, ew. This was the same kindergarten teacher that told my mom to steer my interests toward any trade that doesn't require a high school diploma.

I was so happy to graduate from kindergarten. I remember my first grade teacher looked like Elizabeth Taylor. I'm sure that's a memory backfill on my part and she probably wasn't really that glamorous. But compared to the blister-riddled kinder-skank across the hall, Mrs. Sawyer was a goddess.

Best of all, as mature first-graders we weren't required to take naps. We did recess with the big kids.

It wasn't so bad. When I got home Mom would
make my brother give my lunch money back.
And recess was when I learned first-graders were pretty much the bottom of the playground food chain. A blissful visit with the Sandman started looking pretty good compared to a half hour of making involuntary face-down snow angels or having my underpants filled with sand. I started looking forward to rainy days.

It was on one of those rainy days that all the first-graders stayed in Mrs. Sawyers room for recess, clumped into circles around various activities. I was attracted to the group that was playing the best game Milton and/or Bradley ever dreamed up: Operation. I clapped with excitement each time the buzzer sounded and Cavity Sam's nose lit up, because that meant I was one incompetent child surgeon closer to having my turn.

After waiting what seemed like forever, it was finally my chance to show off my surgical skills. Since most of the easy body parts had already been picked clean, I was forced to perform the one of the more difficult procedures: removing the fat guy's Bread Basket. Slowly, carefully, I moved my surgical tweezers into position. This was when I could have used a scrub nurse to wipe the sweat from my brow. Closer. Almost got it...


Now this game has computer chips, LEDs, and
I'm sure"writer's cramp" has been changed to
"autocorrect thumb" or something like that.
Looking back, I guess I was wound kind of tight back then. I was so startled by the buzzer and flashing red nose that I reflexively jumped. And in doing so, yanked the electric tweezer wire clean out of the game board. Have you ever been surrounded by a dozen or so of your peers at the very second they realize in unison that you're a hopeless spaz? That kind of thing leaves a mark on a kid.

As my playmates muttered and dispersed, spreading their disappointment like bird flu to the other groups of children, Mrs. Sawyer walked over and saw me sitting with the detached tweezers in my hand. She started to put the game back in the box, but I asked her to please let me try to fix it. Since the game was ruined, she obviously didn't see any harm in letting me try. She even gave me a screwdriver.

I spent the rest of the recess taking the game apart, trying to figure out how it worked. I learned that if I shorted out two metal contacts with the screwdriver, the buzzer would sound. It was actually very simple really. Pac's first circuit! I took the game home and that night after dinner my dad took out his soldering iron and helped me reattach the tweezer wire.

The next morning with great pride, I presented the game to Mrs. Sawyer as good as new. Well, almost. Sam would have to learn to live with his Wrenched Ankle since the tweezers could no longer reach it.

Sometimes it's the time in between formal lesson plans that a teacher can most inspire a child. My first-grade teacher probably didn't realize at the time that, by giving me the freedom to try to fix my mistake, she was starting me on a path toward becoming an electrical engineer. Just like it probably wasn't my kindergarten teacher's intention to turn me off vaginas for life.

1 comment:

  1. I bow down to your mad writing skills!

    Great post... again!