Know that really traumatic day you had in elementary school? Everyone has one. The one terrible horrible despicable day that stands out in your mind every time “traumatic childhood experience” comes to mind. Here’s mine:
Kindergarten. Nap time. End of the day. Remember nap time? Mrs. Durst would put on the record player (yeah, record player. and no, I’m not as old as you think) and we lay there for how long? I have no idea. I never remember falling asleep though. But I do remember the kids that did fall asleep because the lights would come on, we’d all put away our mats, and the kids that fell asleep were left on their mats in the reading circle until the bell rang and they’d have to wake up, and run to catch their bus to go home. God I wish we still had nap time.
But the most traumatic horrible day ever? I fell asleep at nap time. I know! The horror! But the bad part came when I woke up. I remember going over to my desk, packing up, putting my chair on top of my desk, and then I went to put on my shoes. My shoe lace was in a knot and I couldn’t get my shoe on. My teacher couldn’t untie the knot, my desk neighbor couldn’t untie the knot, and then, the worst thing happened – the bell rang. My teacher told me I’d just have to go to the bus without my shoe one. No biggie, right? Ha, yeah right.
Let’s revisit the me of kindergarten. I had a reputation as the prissy little blond girl that wore dresses every day, threw violent temper tantrums when I didn’t get my way, and would burst into tears at the drop of a hat. Over nothing. Our friends had a 3 year old that started having horrific, middle of the night screaming nightmares… about spaghetti. Yes, spaghetti. Food gave her nightmares. While they didn’t get it, I had nothing but empathy for this kid. The boy and I termed it being a “sensi”. When your kid is so sensitive to change and new things that it causes a complete emotional breakdown. I was totally that kid.
Now take that prissy little girl who loves routine and can’t emotionally handle change and tell her she has to ride the bus home without her shoe. Not good. I think I started sobbing before the bus pulled out of the school lot. We had “bus girls” that would parade up and down the aisle of the bus telling everyone to be quiet and sit down. Usually this was a precocious bossy 4th grader that really enjoyed ratting out people. She came up to me to tell me to be quiet and I sobbed out “can I sit next to my sister?” I had to let my sister know I couldn’t get my shoe on. The bus girl let me move to sit next to my sister and, in typical sister style, I’m pretty sure she gave me that annoyed look followed by “what? why are you crying?” But even she couldn’t get the knot out. To be fair, we lived less than a mile from school. So we were home soon enough. And when the bus doors opened up I bolted across the street and into my mom’s arms in tears all because I had to go all the way home… without a shoe on. And my mom carried me home so I didn’t have to walk without a shoe on. I have such a nice mom.
And that day has stayed with me. For 23 years it has been such an awful emotional experience. And then last night, in my dream, I woke up on the mat in kindergarten. And instead of my 5 year old frame of mind, I woke up with my 28 year old mind and I recognized it immediately. First thing I thought to myself “I know this place – I know this day. And I am NOT falling asleep…” And you know what? I got up off that mat and because I did that, I had enough time to get that knot out of my shoe and put it on before the bell rang! And I made it home with my shoe on and it was no longer the worst day most traumatic day ever.