I have three distinct memories from pre-school:
- Watching a movie about train safety
- Skipping a field trip
- Panicking over the fact that I was in the nap time area and I was not supposed to be there for nap time
The first memory is pretty self-explanatory. We were shown a movie telling us to stay away from train tracks because trains are bigger than pre-schoolers. In a fight between a train and one or more pre-schoolers, the train will always win.
The second memory involves a field trip to a park. I was terrified of being lost as a child. In my mind if I wasn’t on top of my game, monitoring my surroundings and those who were allegedly watching me, then I would be left behind and lost for all time. I would be forced to become a wild nature girl, relying solely on my animal-like instincts to survive among the bears and other forest creatures.
I can remember when I was six my family was stopped at a rest stop on our move from Utah to Washington. When we were walking around I kept my brothers in sight at all times as to not misplace them and lose them to the forest.
So anyway, in pre-school my class was talking a trip to a park. Of course I wanted no part in this. So, my mom told me I didn’t have to go. When I delivered this message to the teacher, it did not sit as well with her as it did with me. She did not have a backup plan for students who did not want to be a part of her activities. The teacher sternly told me to sit in a chair until I was picked up. For some reason, there was a single chair in the front of the play area facing the door – maybe she had actually come up with a backup plan, and this was it.
I sat there until they left.
Then I started exploring. She had conveniently turned all the lights out so my adventure was lit only by the sunlight streaming in through the front windows. At first I stayed near the chair. That was my safe zone. People would know to look for me there. I played with toys on the shelves behind the chair, keeping the chair in view.
But as my courage grew, so did my radius from the safety zone. Soon I was wandering the hallways observing the other classes that weren’t forced to choose between a trip to the park that would lead to a lifetime of forest dwelling, and a day of solitude and shame with only a chair to call friend.
I watched the kids eating their snacks and they all stared at me wondering why there was a strange little girl salivating at the end of the hall. Their teacher didn’t offer me any tasty treats.
With hunger setting in, and the overwhelming fear of being captured and lost in a group of kids where nobody would know to look for me dominating my thoughts, I headed back to the chair. I sat staring at the door, not sure what I was waiting for but knew something would happen. Luckily my mom appeared and took me away from the dark, lonely, shame-filled adventure.
Much like my second memory, my third memory largely revolves around fear. I stayed at pre-school until nap time – that’s when my mom would come to pick me up. I knew where nap time area was and what nap time mats looked like. I also knew that I didn’t want any part of it. If I was there for nap time, it could only mean one thing – I had been lost and forgotten for all time. So, when the teacher led us to the nap area I began to panic. I’m pretty sure we were going to watch a movie, but it felt like a trick to me. I made sure my teacher was well aware of the fact that “I’m not supposed to be here” and that I had to leave.
Clearly pre-school was a terrifying part of my childhood.