There’s a girl in my class who wants her way.
When I was in Kindergarten, our Music Hour was very procedural. Once a week the teacher wheeled a little cart out of The Closet with the Blue Door. Attached to this cart were sassy tambourines, delicate triangles, smooth maracas, and even some mysterious clacker-things you smack against your hips to keep rhythm. The best instrument of all (and who could not agree?) was the shiny set of cymbals. The lucky student who got to ***crash*** the cymbals at the end of the song was the envy of every classmate.
I got it in my head that ALL of those instruments ought to be played with at once. Randomly. Not just during the plodding song when the teacher pointed at you, but BAM CRASH BOOM at the same time. I decided that if I could just sneak inside that Closet with the Blue Door, I could percuss to my heart’s content and nobody would notice.
Hey, I was only in Kindergarten–!
Just how to get inside that walk-in closet came to me one afternoon as we prepared for Nap Time. During Nap Time, we each laid on a designated towel in the darkened room, listening to classical music. The teacher monitored nearby, and signified with a fairy wand when it was time to “wake up” and put our towels away. This particular day a generally-obnoxious boy named Raymond did not feel like napping. While the lights were dimmed, Raymond was at the other end of the classroom, prancing around like only Generally-Obnoxious boys know how to do. I was typically an obedient little soul, and as I lay quietly on my towel waiting for Raymond to obey, I heard the exasperated teacher say, “Raymond, if you don’t come on over here with the rest of the children, I will shut you up in that closet–!”
Suddenly, I got goosebumps. That was it! Raymond scampered over obediently, but my head was spinning with ideas. The next day (you guessed it) when the lights were out, I worked my hardest to get the teacher’s attention while I hung out near The Blue Door. Raymond, sufficiently fearful of Mrs. Haymore’s threat, was meekly “napping.” But not me. This reversal of things confused the poor teacher, and she kindly encouraged me to join the others. I completely ignored her. When she turned her attention elsewhere, I panicked. “Why isn’t she scolding me?” I wondered. I spotted a spool of red thread tucked inside a friend’s desk; a Show and Tell item from earlier in the day. Setting it on the floor, I took the end of the thread and began walking around the room, wrapping thread around chair legs as the spool followed me. I glanced over at Mrs. Haymore, who had the patience of Job and apparently trusted I would make my way over to Nap Time on my own. She wasn’t even looking at me.
“Come on, little puppy puppy puppy. Follow me!” I called out to the spool of thread.
“Wendi! What is WRONG with you today?! Get over here at once!”
“Mrs. Haymore,” Raymond spoke up, “you said if we didn’t come to Nap Time you’d put us in the closet!”
“Yeah, yeah!” the other children chimed in.
Bless Raymond’s heart. So the teacher, sighing heavily, stood up from her chair, walked over to the well-lit Closet with the Blue Door, and scooted a delighted me inside. I’d never dreamed there was so much cool stuff in there! Balsa wood blocks, stuffed animals, dozens of books, and even a doll house! But of course the most exciting thing of all was that music cart! And there I was, all alone, inches away from the tambourines and maracas and CYMBALS!!!
Settling into the pile of stuffed animals, I reached out and smoothed my hand over the brassy texture, causing the cymbal to swing slightly. I couldn’t be happier! No sense startling the dozing children at once, I told myself as I stretched upward up for a book. Cymbal-crashing time would come soon enough!
The sad ending to my triumphant story is that I fell asleep. Someone shouted. “Where’s Wendi?!” and the door swung open wide. Poor Mrs. Haymore’s face looked horrified as I wiped sleepiness from my eyes. Apparently I’d missed out on Math altogether and the children were putting on their jackets for home. With my own jacket still resting on its hook, my absence had suddenly been noted. My teacher apologized profusely, telling everyone the new rule is nobody will ever be shut in the closet. I smugly pulled my jacket over my arm, having absolutely no remorse for the way I’d spent my afternoon. The cymbals could wait for another day.
Touche to my little student whose head is full of strategies. I asked for it.