When I was in kindergarten I went to this little school in Naga City, called Kiddie Garden. I don’t remember much of the whole experience. Like most everything from childhood, we only tend to remember snippets and snatches of things when we're very young -- the colors of the walls, fragments of voices, the beats to certain songs but not quite the words, the feel of a classmate’s small hand on our equally small shoulders, someone’s mother’s floral dress, the taste of milk from a thermos, the scent of the teacher’s legs as she walked around.
I remember letting my crayon shavings fall to the floor and stick there, to the chagrin of the janitors, who would have to go down on their hands and knees to scrape them off the surface of the floor tiles. I also remember a fat, loud Santa Claus who gave us all brown paper bags with large red apples inside, and the feel of a dry clump of soil in my hand as we planted forget-me-nots under the windows of our classrooms. I remember the headbands I wore, which always matched my dress. I remember strawberry-scented shampoo and white lace socks. I remember Winnie-the-Pooh, Raggedy Ann and Andy, and Holly Hobbie.
I remember afternoons in Kiddie Garden, when our teacher and her helpers would lay down colorful mats on the floor, make us get our pillows from our lockers and lie down on the mats to take our siesta
. The pillows in Kiddie Garden were never the usual pillows. They were always in some shape or other -- a large candy, short and very fat pencil, a pink cat, a blue car, a large yellow flower, a green dog with plastic eyes that rolled around. I had a pillow in the shape of a kangaroo. My kangaroo pillow was made of red felt, and its ears and pouch were made of red and white checked fabric. It was big and fluffy and smelled of crayons.
I loved that red kangaroo pillow. I was the only one in my kindergarten class that had a kangaroo to hug every afternoon at siesta
. My mother designed this pillow and had it made by the family seamstress. She was twenty-six. I was four.
Now she is fifty-six, I am thirty-five, and my son Chandler is ten. I am not the kind of mother, though, that would have my son’s siesta
pillows custom-made. The kind of mother I am is generally forgetful, disorganized, un-coordinated, highly strung, paranoid, melodramatic, histrionic, a little frazzled, and just a wee bit neurotic. But when I am with Chandler, somehow he compensates for my mercurial ways, and we get along perfectly fine. No fancy pillows, but there are peanut butter sandwiches, stories, movies, long telephone conversations about anything under the sun, being together in the rain with rubber boots and a very large umbrella, or just waiting to see how far up into the sky a balloon would go.
It’s Chandler’s birthday today. And as he enters the two-digit age, I wish only that he grows up to be an adult who would have happy memories of his own childhood, and remember the sounds and the colors and the aromas of book pages and chocolate and freshly-fallen rain and --
Well, I will stop now. It’s Chandler’s turn.
Older posts for Chandler’s birthday: [1
Image credits: [1