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Boyhood naiveté behind wet ears

My boyhood rambunctiousness and high energy innocence in kindergarten reaped painful whacks on the knuckles  It is amazing what I recall from my earliest years – from boyhood. I remember with amazing clarity mistreatment I

My boyhood rambunctiousness and high energy innocence in kindergarten reaped painful whacks on the knuckles 

It is amazing what I recall from my earliest years – from boyhood. I remember with amazing clarity mistreatment I received on a regular basis from a particularly abusive kindergarten teacher.

I don’t remember her name, but I can still see her angry countenance. She always appeared annoyed and angry – at least to me. She was a hulking lady to a fairly diminutive K-pupil. Her hair was dark, brunette, I guess. She regularly wore a white button-down sweater, ankle-length dress, and eye glasses, which accentuated a stern grandmotherly demeanor. She might have been younger, but to a 5-year-old, everyone’s a “senior citizen.”

I was in trouble often, I recall. I don’t think I was a bad little boy, but I do remember I was always laughing at errant behavior by other kids in class. A few of us were rambunctious; hadn’t yet learned to be disciplined pupils. I didn’t know the meaning of “discipline’ in a classroom setting. I liked to play and laugh.

I recall being out of my seat a lot, and just found everything funny, but I was the only kid that got into hot water with the “wicked witch.” That’s the name I concocted for her; probably why I can’t recall her real name.

Well, “Mrs. WW” always seemed to stop whatever she was doing, zero-in on me, to catch me in one of my cackling fits – I don’t know if it was the way I laughed (might have been high-pitched) that irritated her – but she’d streak straight over to my desk like a storm trooper blowing smoke from her nostrils, grab me by my shirt collar, march me into the supply closet and shut the door.

Remember those kindergarten classroom supply closets that contained extra paper, crayolas, pencils, water color paint, games, and a zillion other stuff? That was the corporal punishment room where I was remanded.  I suspected then and now, Mrs. WW wanted to execute reprisal she didn’t want other kids to see.

She’d turn on the light with the hanging chain, sit me down in a wooden chair and say to me “you’re misbehaving again!” or something to that affect, then open a drawer to retrieve a metal spoon that looked like one of those over-sized tablespoons with which our parents forced us to swallow dreaded castor oil.

Mrs. WW then ordered me to place my balled fist on the desk top and she’d flog my knuckles hard a couple times with the utensil. I remember the pain. It was very sharp and streaked through my hands and wrists. She performed this ritual several times over the course of the school year, but I don’t recall the punitive measure always being solely for my singular misbehavior – other kids misbehaved too, but they never got carted off to the “Closet Torture Chamber.”

Mrs. WW always appeared disappointed after whacking my knuckles. She frowned and once snarled spitefully – “you never cry!” I was a strong little kid. That spoon hurt “Like the Dickens,” but I wasn’t about to show any tears and give her the satisfaction that she’d won. It was clear she didn’t like me.

When I recall those moments in kindergarten at Las Palmas Elementary School in National City, Calif., outside San Diego, I often wondered what motivated Mrs. WW to overact to behavior that surely wasn’t out of the norm for an ordinary, playful, energetic 5-year-old boy.

It couldn’t have been my short cropped hair with a part on the left side, dimpled cheeks, and snaggle-tooth grin – could it?

Or was it something more sinister?

 

 

 

 

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. is Publisher and Editor of Compton Herald. He attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and is an alumnus of California State University, Los Angeles.

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