Kindergarten, plastic blue mats and naptime

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

Ah, the school bells will soon be ringing, and the kids will have to be getting up early instead of sleeping late or watching TV or playing on the computer. Or, some of them may have to give up their summer jobs. Either way, their schedules are about to change.

School can be very exciting for some, but it can also be very frightening for other children.

When I was little, we didn't have kindergarten back then. But, since I was the only little girl in my neighborhood, and my three older brothers and their friends didn't think it was in any way cool to have baby sister tagging along, my parents sent me to Mrs. Melvin Gillem's &#8220Kiddie College” on Hillcrest Drive in Greenville.

It turned out to be great because I met many of the people I would soon go to school with, work with and become best friends with.

Mrs. Gillem had these tire swings in her back yard that were great, and at that time, my vertigo had not made itself known to me, so I could enjoy twisting around and around and swinging in them. We learned how to tie our shoes; I do remember that. And, I'm sure we learned a lot more educational stuff, but I do know that we had fun.

Of course, nothing beats naptime. You know, those plastic blue mats that you would lie on and have to take a nap whether you wanted to or not.

Boy, what I would give for a plastic blue mat and a naptime every afternoon these days.

By the time first and second grades rolled around, I was really proud of my organizational skills because of those little plastic pouches that zipped up and kept all of your pencils and pens together neatly.

Wait a minute. Did they have those little zippered plastic pouches in 1972?

Hmm, maybe I'm thinking about the cigar boxes that held all of my crayonsŠ

Anyway, Mrs. Dickie Sue Lee was one of the best teachers I ever had. She taught us in the second grade, and I know my alphabet and phonics to this day because of her. Every week, she would uncover a new letter on the wall, and each letter had a big picture to go with it to remind you of what sound that letter was supposed to make. My favorite picture was of the little girl eating ice cream and saying, &#8220Mmmm,” because the ice cream was so good. Of course, that was the letter &#8220M.” Funny how you remember certain things, isn't it?

Of course, by the time I hit the sixth grade, things were completely different. I was listening to KISS and the Beatles (what a combination), and I was in love with Leif Garrett, Scott Baio and Erik Estrada, or &#8220Ponch,” from the TV show &#8220Chips.”

&#8220All in the Family” was breaking every societal faux pas, and watching &#8220Gilligan's Island” and &#8220The Beverly Hillbillies” every afternoon after school was a must.

By the time I hit high school, I had discovered makeup, a curling iron and lots of Aussie Sprunch Spray. After all, BIG hair in the 80s was a must. Don't deny it. You did it, too.

Let's face it: going to school, meeting new people, trying to fit in, wanting to be accepted, liked and included in the &#8220in” crowd- all of those things still exist for today's young people. And we should rememberŠ. it's not easy. Plus, today's kids have so many more obstacles and temptations thrown at them than we did, that it's absolutely frightening.

After reminiscing about our early school days, Samson, my 21-pound tomcat, remembered how he used to get beat up and have his milk money taken from him. Of course, one of his favorite tunes he hums these days is &#8220If They Could See Me Now.”

Regina Grayson is managing editor of The Luverne Journal. She can be reached at 335-3541 or by email,: