Kindergarten, we really did learn a lot in kindergarten. Once I got untangled from the ceiling to floor curtains that I tightly twirled myself into for days, I learned that school was not so  bad.

But that first day, I was terrified, I had grown up for my entire 4.8 yrs of my life with my mom in own home. I knew I was safe at home. I had one older sister who was 10 years older than me, a sister that was 1 1/2 years older than me, and a brother who was a year old.

We had a mom who made sure we were dressed in clean clothes, that we had food to eat, prayers to say, songs to sing, and arms that held us if we needed to be held. She sang songs to us as we drifted off to sleep, she read us stories. She was there when I opened my eyes in the morning, when I needed her during the day, to tuck me in for nap time, to provide me a security, to kiss my cheek goodnight, and to comfort me during my nightmares. She was my anchor in life, yet I did not realize it at that moment.

I remember that we lived in a house on the outskirts of Skaneateles, on Route 5 heading towards Auburn. It was a neat house ( from the outside it looked neat) perched up on a hill ( now as an adult that hill is a slight incline) and we had one car. my dad used the car during the week, so for me and my sister- we had to walk down a large to us driveway and stand at the edge of Route 5 waiting for the bus to come.

The bus was big, it was noisy, and it was filled with people and adventures  all strange to me. I was not sure what to expect- my sister was with me, but she could not take away my fear, my fright. There were teachers waiting for our buses to arrive, to show us where to go, and I remember walking into that room and when my eyes saw the floor length curtain- it called my name. It became the arms of my mom  I had left behind .

I can smell the curtains still in the memories of my mind. They smelled kinda musty- not noticeable unless you are letting them embrace you. I wrapped myself up so tightly, spinning until the tugging on the hooks was probably at it’s max, and I remember crying into the material- which made it smell stronger. Between my tears and my moist warm breath, the smell was poignant. The material was almost the feel of stiff woven material- a little softer than burlap…, and as I stood there, it felt scratchy on my face arms and legs.

My teacher was Mrs Taylor. She was soft spoken and I was one of maybe 15 kids. So she did not really have one on one time for me, But she would work with the class, and than come and touch my shoulder, telling me it would be okay. I remember hearing her voice muffled through the layers of material, and sometimes it felt like the curtains were supporting my tired legs as I stood there. I know she called my mom and voiced her concern about my behavior. My mom spoke to me and told me it was how it had to be.

Eventually the curtain became less a need for an embrace, and more a comfort from afar. It was like in my mind, I knew it was there if I needed to retreat. Some kids asked me why I did it, one little boy helped talk me out of the curtains, His name was Skeeter Crosley, and he became my best friend thru 4th grade.

So in kindergarten , in those first few day, I learned that change is not so bad, that there were other people in the world my age, that someone else could be nice to me like my mom, and that there was such a thing as a friend.

I look back to than, and I wish there had been sitters, or day cares, a nursery school opportunity, or pre k programs, that would have gradually exposed me to the social life. For the terror, the feeling of being alone, the feeling of fright, I truly believe they would still not be in my psyche- tucked away… had I had a chance to become accustomed to the transition in a more gradual way.

Today life is busier, and moms often need to work, and kids go to sitters , or day cares, or pre-ks… and looking back- I think it helps them adjust better. So when school starts- they can enjoy school… Love to all. Mrs Justa.. alias Cindy

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