Kindergarten & First Grade in Michigan

The neighborhood I lived in in Michigan when I was 5 years old was a quiet subdivision. At the edge of it was the elementary school. So for my first day of kindergarten, we only had to walk about 3 blocks to get to school
Everybody’s mom brought them. There was food for everybody, but it was grown-up food for the moms. Coffee, which I didn’t drink, and cheesecake, which I didn’t (and still don’t) like.
It was a huge social occasion for our moms. They were all talking to each other like crazy, pretty oblivious to the kids. I found Bob, a kid I knew who lived down the block from me. When you’re 5 years old, it’s really hard to understand adult conversation, so we couldn’t really follow what was going on between our moms, and when you did follow it, it was uninteresting.
I said to Bob “This is boring. Let’s leave.”. So Bob and I left and headed up the large open hill back toward where we lived, probably to go to my back yard and play on the swing set or in the sandbox. Then someone was calling us from back at the school. I guess that was when I learned that you can’t leave school any time you feel like it.
Our teacher was Miss Whipple. I thought she was the most beautiful thing in the world. I remember one time she asked me if I would do something, and I answered “I’ll do anything for you, baby!”. I’d gotten that line from a cartoon. She thought that was cute.
At some point I got in trouble, I don’t remember what for, and for a punishment I had to sit under her desk. And then she sat at her desk. She had a skirt on, so I was in there with her bare legs. I did not feel very punished.
Around Christmas time, we had to learn a song, “The Little Drummer Boy”. Miss Whipple said “Here’s how the song goes:” and she sang it. It seemed so long, I thought “I’ll never be able to remember all that.”. So when everybody sang it I tried to fake it, just opening my mouth and closing it again. But she figured out what I was doing. Miss Whipple was smart.
In first grade we had Mrs. Miller. I remember that year we had a substitute teacher at some point, and everybody misbehaved. I was in the bathroom, and in an open revolt, all the girls ran into the boys’ bathroom to see what it was like. In retaliation I went into the girls bathroom. I was surprised at how different it was — there were more stalls than in the boys’ bathroom, and no urinals.
The substitute teacher somehow restored order and the boys had to lie on the floor in various places around the classroom. I remember Karl was crying but I figured we couldn’t be in too much trouble because there were so many of us involved.

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