Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Odd Kid in Kindergarten

 I'll tell you why I remember Norbert.
I remember him because
on the very first day of Kindergarten
he didn't quite make it to the bathroom in time.
They had to call his mom
and she had to come
so he could change his pants.
It was a bad way to start Kindergarten.
Even at 5 years old, I knew it.
And things just didn't get any better for little Norbert.
I remember his family was from another country;
his parents didn't speak much English,
which, I now understand,
meant Kindergarten was an especially difficult challenge
for Norbert's parents
and for Norbert.
Here is something else I remember about Norbert.
I just loved the little guy.
He smiled real big
and even though he wasn't your classic
Kindergarten "good looking",
(whatever that is???)
he was a charmer.
I loved it when he and I were assigned to the same play "station"
during our play rotation time.
I didn't care which station:
the coloring tables,
the slide,
the little miniature kitchen,
the math station with it's rows of math games,
and a cool, beaded abacus.

All I cared about
was that Norbert and I had great fun together.
The little guy captured my heart.
Norbert was my little heart-secret.
That's because Doug and Ben were the kids to be seen with
in my Kindergarten class.
Doug wore glasses which
everyone thought were extremely cool
and Ben had a horse.
Once again
completely cool.
Norbert pooped his pants and his parents talked funny.
A tough gig for a little guy just starting school.
I didn't care.
Norbert was my kinda guy.
I remember laughing as we played.
It was Norbert and me at the reading table,
Norbert and me coloring together.
He was weird
and people made fun of him
and much of the time
(for what reason I really don't know)
he smelled kind of funny.
But he captured my Kindergarten heart.
He wasn't cool, he was just my friend.
The last day of school was the last day I ever saw Norbert.
I played through the long, hot summer
and when I came back to school in the fall
he never showed up.
The end of a beautiful friendship.
But the seed of an important lesson planted.
Not too many years later
I had the chance to take music lessons.
My dad was a pianist.
It seemed to make sense.
And true enough,
I thought it was so neat the way my Daddy could just sit down
and make those keys dance with his skinny fingers.
He offered to teach me.
The piano looked like so much fun.
He sat down several times and began to show me how the keyboard worked.
I loved sitting there.
I loved the way my fingers felt on those shiny, beautiful keys.
But I quickly discovered there was no heart connection.
I just couldn't pursue it for more than a few sit-downs.
Much as I loved listening to my Dad play,
beyond the beauty of the piano and it's shiny keyboard
there was no connection for me.
My heart belonged to my crayons.
And markers.
And paper.
And scissors.
And glue.
My heart-choices weren't as shiny
but the things that wrapped strings around my heart
and have held me tight from the time I could first pick up a pencil
are the creative arts
where I take materials and fuss with them
until something magic appears.
Some folks choose shiny instruments
some folks choose hobbies that make their hearts sing.
Some people jump out of airplanes and find that to be some kind of
sparkly and fulfilling.

Fussing with my hands
and the art of creating things
is what truly makes my heart sing.

It's the heart-connection I knew from the very beginning
was truly, truly me.

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