Lately, I’ve headed to work as the first bits of daylight light up the sky and noticed the moon is still out. The other morning, there was a big ‘ol moon in the sky as I headed down the street.
Believe it or not, the moon’s presence caused me to harken back to 1972.
Back then, I was in kindergarten at Northside School, just a couple of blocks from home.
I’m not sure why I was always a realist. Even though I believed in many of the important things like Santa Claus and magic, I looked at much of life with a logical slant. I think many kids my age will tell you we were raised with the “well, that’s just too dang bad” mentality. Suck it up. Be a realist.
So we went into kindergarten with a more level-headed innocence than kids do these days.
We learned phonics and our letter sounds through the “Letter People” back then. Each time a new letter would come along, we’d listen to a record, practice with worksheets and talk for days about the words that started with that sound.
The crowning glory of this immersion into phonetics was the presence of a plastic, blow-up “Letter Person.”
For some reason, our first letter person was “Mr. M.” He was a blow-up, plastic person who smelled like Christmas morning and did nothing but sit there. Gloriously colorful and somewhat psychedelic with late 1960s/early 1970s design sense, he didn’t do much else.
Therefore, I was completely flummoxed when Mr. M. came to our classroom that first day. He apparently walked down the hallway, knocked on our door and was ushered in by Mrs. White or Mrs. Gruner, our kindergarten teachers.
Furthermore, he had gone to the kitchen next door and rustled up a pot of macaroni for us to taste.
For several days, the talk around our milk and snack table was how in the heck he knocked on the door and walked down the hallway. There was no way! We didn’t even discuss the macaroni. The heat from the hot plate would’ve melted his big ‘ol head. I mean, come on!
We were a group of level-headed, no-nonsense 5-year-olds.
OK, so now I’ve rambled on with all this background information, I will now tell you what the presence of the moon has to do with this column.
We were apparently learning about sensible things, or “likes and opposites” or something of that nature. One day as we sat at our tables for some independent work, Mrs. White instructed us to take out our crayons and put our name on a paper. We then were told to put a big “X” on all the things that could not happen.
In the picture, people were bustling around a downtown area, shopping and going about their daily routine. It was obviously daytime, but the sun and moon were out in the sky. It wasn’t raining, but there was a lady carrying an umbrella. Some kids were wearing swimsuits, building a snowman. A lady was digging in her garden on the rooftop. A car was parked in the branches of a tree.
I could go on and on with all the chaos going on in this picture.
Dutifully, I took my fat crayon and started X-ing all the things that were bizarre. The kids in swimsuits, the car in the tree, the upside-down stop sign.
When I got the paper back, my teacher had put a red mark on some of my work. Back then, teachers still marked up papers with red pens and weren’t worried about our poor little delicate feelings. My parents didn’t get mad at the teacher either. Ah, the good ‘ol days.
Immediately, my logical 5-year-old self kicked into gear. When Mrs. White came back my way, I informed her I had indeed seen the moon and the sun in the sky at the same time. Also, there was a fancy older lady who regularly walked up town with an umbrella on sunny days. She wanted to protect her delicate skin.
If I were to complete the worksheet today, I could add life experiences and even more logic to my choices in the picture.
Sure, I’d still “X” the stop sign, but I would argue the swimsuited kids building a snowman. You see, I have two boys that would often decide to strip completely naked and run out the front door and around the house, regardless of season.
I would tell Mrs. White that straightline winds or a small tornado had blown the car into that tree. I would explain my living near a big city, clearly aware people gardened on rooftops.
I wouldn’t have put an “X” on many of the things in the picture, and I had the logic to back it up.
I would imagine that Mrs. White didn’t change my grade (I doubt we even got grades for such things) and most likely marked that I was argumentative. She wanted us to see obvious things in the picture that usually didn’t happen, and I’m sure she didn’t give a flying hoot about our realistic and logical responses.
Still, I applaud our young minds and our ability to rationalize.
If nothing else, it made for good cookies and milk conversation.