I think every person has a childhood story that works as a preview for coming life attractions. Goodness knows when people get old, family members love to reminisce and often use the phrase "I should have known then" as a framing device. I have a couple of these stories, but today I bring you the story of a Kindergarten break out that changed protocol at my elementary school.
For most people, kindergarten forms some of their happiest school memories. There was a lot of singing and dancing and coloring and napping. Oh, why can't we all just return to a simpler time? Because it was as boring and miserable as waiting in DMV line with a hangover and no company or phone. I didn't loathe going. I liked a game of Hot Lava as much as the next kid. But, I did reach a point pretty quickly where I realized that my mom was at home and I was stuck "learning" things I already knew in an environment where it was ok for people to wet themselves.
Part way through the school year, my cup of kindergarten ranneth over (yes, I know that's not a word) and I hatched a plan. It wasn't a terribly complicated plan as I was 5 years old and my class was not being held in Alcatraz. Nope. This was a minimum security facility and I had two things going in my favor: no one expected any of us to be independent, ergo no planning had gone in to preventing it, and I rarely questioned my own impulses. My thinking went something like this: I feel satisfied with what I have put in today that is good enough for me. Time to call it a day.
When our teachers ushered the class into the fenced play yard, I sought out a shy girl I had never spoken to before and told her tales of a wonderful land called "my house." My house had my mom and my toys and a TV and snacks and, best of all, it wasn't school. In hindsight, I may have picked this girl because she was a handy foil. Where I was precocious and headstrong, she barely spoke and did whatever I told her. Ideal!
Breaking from the pack of my sticky, elfin peers I grabbed my Holly Hobby lunch box and my mute sidekick before sauntering over to the gate, lifting the latch and exiting the play yard. Sure, my escape didn't include Nicholas Cage or a rowdy band of misfits with various specialties, but that was the brilliance: it didn't need to. I only needed to be able to open a gate and a rough estimation of where my house was.
Rough is a spectrum and I was closer to the "no idea" end than the "mostly knew" one. It took Little Miss Mime and I quite a while to traverse the neighborhood and my only clear memory is that I decided part way there that we should each take off one shoe and one sock and store them in my lunch box. I had my reasons. As we made our way down a series of residential and busy streets with our curious shoe arrangement, we had no idea what was happening back at the school.
It hadn't taken long for the teachers to spot our absence and after what I am sure was a thorough tossing of the entire kindergarten area, the principal became involved and our parents were called. I didn't know the back story when, nearly an hour after the escape, I spotted my mom walking toward me a few blocks from home. My thoughts went something like this: "Mom! Aren't moms the best? She must have just known I was on my way home. Look at her walking down … Oh no. Oh no. I am in so much trouble." The smile that had brightened my face when I first spotted her fell into darkness, my chin started to shake from suppressed tears, and I had no idea why I wasn't wearing one of my socks and shoes. None.
My mom marched me back to my educational keepers and I was subjected to what felt like hours of intense grilling from the principal, Mr. Curb. In other respects, he was a decent warden and really liked the opportunity Halloween presented to dress elaborately as women. Miss Piggy and the full cheerleader get-up with pigtails stand out in my memory. I was asked to explain how I got out and why I took a hostage. Promises were made to never leave the grounds again and I kept them. Of course, the school also immediately placed a padlock on the gate to the kindergarten area.
I don't know about my silent partner because I don't think I ever spoke to her again. Or, maybe she wasn't allowed to play with me anymore. That was a pretty thematically consistent pattern as I got older. Shy types beware, I need minions.
By the time I got to sixth grade, I was plotting how to get off of school grounds. In junior high, it intensified. By the time I was in ninth grade, I was missing class on the regular. One time, I drove and hour out of town with friends to get milkshakes. Another time, I spent all day with a couple people in a Wal-Mart and we ate Rondele and crackers and unplugged arcade games and only to plug in hair appliances instead. I still can't stand having to go places just because it's the rules. If I was learning in school, I attended. If I was watching Homeward Bound in my trig class, the school could get fucked.
Share a story from your youth that bottles the very essence of you*.
*Yeah, that sentence is gross but I am spent.