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bella's single complaint about kindergarten, to date, is that it is too long. when marty consoled her by saying it would get easier and she would get used to it, she replied ... "but it's just too hard to go all day without loving you or father." those are called 'mad skills'.

days later, a teacher told me that parents are welcome to come and eat lunch with their children. curious about how bella was doing and hoping to shorten her day i decided to make an appearance. after spying me on the playground and charging into my open arms, bella was near-quaking with excitement. she proudly walked me by the hand through the catacomb-like hallways pointing out various rooms and doorways announcing their purpose (art room, nurses office, gymnasium) like some school-appointed docent. when children or adults would approach, she'd introduce me, or rather announce me; this is my father. he is here to have lunch with me.

when we got to the cafeteria we sat down at long brown-topped table. at first it was just the two of us, across from one another. for being such a large and full room, it felt cozy. we didn't talk too much, rather just unpacked our respective lunches. slowly, her classmates began arriving. i fully expected them to distance themselves from the strange adult they didn't know but this was not the case. the first boy sat so close to my left side we were touching. when i looked down at him he was smiling up at me with a mouthful of teeth and gums. more kids arrived, each assuming the next closest spot to me.

there were small bouts of conversation between the kids but the first few minutes had most of them extracting their meals from their colorful lunch containers while staring at me. then the close-boy to my left, kayon, confidently asked with a mouthful of sandwich, "so, do you have a wife?" chuckling, i said i did. this simple and very direct inquiry opened a vigorous line of questioning. they came from all kids and all sides. at one point, a boy behind me asked if i was a mailman, pointing at the courier bag slung over my shoulder. i said i wasn't. he said "oh, then is that a ... a ..." he struggled for a word other than purse and i assisted him by saying it was my bookbag. later, kayon, was eyeing a brownie that was sitting in front of me. he himself was slowly working on a rice crispy treat.

KAYON
i know you don't want that brownie.

TROY
i know you don't want that rice crispy treat.

(a few moments pass, and then again.)

KAYON
i know you still don't want that brownie.

TROY
i know you still don't want that rice crispy treat.

KAYON
i know you don't want that white hair on your head.

to adults a smattering of grey is thought to be a distinguishing mark, to a five year old, it is a defect to call on in attempt to weaken an adults grip on a shrink-wrapped brownie. it was somewhat relieving to see i was getting an equal amount of respect on my second pass through kindergarten.

and i did end up sharing that brownie with eight out-stretched and soiled hands.

SEP2006

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