Yeah, yeah. It’s a bit late for these. But I was sick through Christmas and, well, busy with awesome people who are more important than this blog through New Year’s. 🙂 So there. But far be it for me to deprive you of stupid stories from my childhood! And so, my Twelve Posts will continue.
I wasn’t exactly a quiet child.
I know. You are totally shocked. Try to contain yourselves.
While I’m not an only child, I was the only child growing up in my parents’ house. My older siblings were already into their twenties when I was in elementary school, and they were off earning Master’s Degrees, going out on dates, and generally leading grown-up lives. My parents, while wonderful to me, also each worked, and between that and keeping the house in order (or socializing elsewhere, in my father’s case. He was definitely the Social Butterfly of the two), I was often left to my own devices. Not that I minded. I had a glorious imagination, and could often be found on the couch, pretending it was a boat going down a river (after an African Queen-inspired episode of Muppet Babies); or outside making piles of leaves I’ve picked off plants, because I was on a deserted island and had to forage for sustenance. I was a solitary kid, as I first grew up in Queens, which meant that traveling around the neighborhood on my own was out of the question. Since I relied on my parents or older siblings to take me to visit friends, and they were all often so busy, I spent a lot of time playing on my lonesome. So much so that, even when I was playing with friends – and I did have friends – I often had a whole other game going on in my head that I was playing by myself.
Hell, I still do that.
There are two responses to being a solitary kid growing up. Some people become very quiet. I guess they get so used to turning inward for company they stop looking for it elsewhere.
And then, there are kids like me. Kids whose brains are so filled to the brim with ideas and feelings and imaginings that they might burst. They need an outlet – desperately – and so whenever they’re around other people, they’re constantly making noise to make their feelings known.
For example, I got “in trouble” my first five minutes into kindergarten. Ask me why.
It was my First Day of Real School. I’d gone to nursery school, but this was different. This was school. Like, in a real building. A building with fifth graders in it. A school so big that my kindergarten class had to be escorted up several flights of stairs in two lines from where we’d lined up in the schoolyard to our classroom. When we entered my classroom, I was amazed. It seemed huge! An entire wall just for our coats! We each got a cubby! Each of our desks opened up so we could put our stuff in them, too! Toys and games everywhere! And how did I express my amazement? I whistled. That whistle that pitches up and slides down in a way that says, Whoa. This room is friggin’ huge! Apparently, it was loud. I thought it’d be drowned out in the low murmur of all the other kids having similar reactions, but nope. My teacher (whose name I forget – I remember my nursery school teachers, and all my teachers from 1st grade on…but for some reason, my kindergarten teacher’s name escapes me) looked right at me, shushed me, and said, “Excuse me! We’re quiet in school.”
Um…you’re quiet in school, Lady.
In kindergarten or 1st Grade – I don’t remember exactly when, but I was young enough to sit in a circle for Story Time – I was, well, sitting in a circle for Story Time. Now, I loved Story Time, because I loved stories. I loved listening to them, and I’d started to enjoy making them up. So this particular story must not have been interesting, because while it was going on, I became obsessed with the velcro on my sneakers.
Ffffrrrrip! *press closed* Fffffrrrrip! *press closed*
My friend, Cynthia, was sitting next to me and was very amused by my velcro-plying. She, too, had velcro closures on her sneakers – hey, we knew how to tie our shoes by then, OK? We just had better things to do! – and she started fffffrrrrip-ing right along with me. Then, she randomly asked me how that Madonna song goes. You know, the one about material? And I totally knew, because I had a big sister and a big brother who kept me in the know. So I started singing it. We are living, in a material world, and I am a material girl…YOU KNOW that we are living, in a material world…
“TERESA! BE QUIET!”
I looked up, and my teacher was not happy, which scared the crap out of me, because I was totally the teacher’s favorite. Or, one of them, anyway. I was a gifted student and I never misbehaved. I just couldn’t shut the hell up. Though, to be fair, that time was totally Cynthia’s fault. She talked to me. What was I supposed to do? Not show her how much I knew about Madonna songs? Please.
My mother was called into school to speak to my teacher once when I was in elementary school, which was weird, because as I said – I never misbehaved. I was the kind of kid teachers liked, and so my parents never saw my teachers except during Parent-Teacher Conferences once a year where my teachers fawned all over my adorable, brilliant little head. Anyway, when my mom asked what the problem was, the teacher apparently started by telling her how much she liked me, how smart I was, what a good girl I was, and how I was such a great student. Then, she dropped her complaint. “But your daughter just won’t stop talking. It’s non-stop. She talks to the other kids, and it’s very distracting.” My mom apparently told her, “I’ll tell her. I know she has to stop. But she does that because she gets so excited. She doesn’t have children her age at home, so she comes to school and wants to talk to everyone. She’s just really smart and has no one to talk to.”
My mother told me this when she got home, and I thought it interesting, even then, that she told me the entirety of her explanation. She didn’t just come home to reprimand me and say “You have to learn not to talk so much in school.” She told me that she told my teacher that she understood why I talked so much. My mom wasn’t giving me permission, exactly, but she was also letting me know that there has to be a balance. That rules aren’t meant to be followed blindly. That sometimes, the people who make the rules need to understand that there have to be exceptions. She was also letting me know that she saw my talkative nature as a bit of a positive; a sign that I had so much creativity and intelligence floating around in my head that I couldn’t help but let it out.
Yes, I know that there are plenty of people who talk incessantly who aren’t brilliant and creative. 🙂 But I like that my mom thought the best of me. I like to think that maybe what she thought about me is true.