E is for Exercise
A Writer’s Book of Days (01/09) – Write About A Ceremony
I have a knack for remembering vivid details of my childhood – some from when I was as young as three.
Kindergarten – 1988, St. Mary’s School – has plenty of snippets. Like the time I burned my hand on the hot plate when my teacher, Mrs. Stephens, made tomato soup for our class. Being supremely jealous of my classmate Michelle, who had a box of 64 Crayola crayons and I only had the 24-count box. Playing “Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?” on the alphabet carpet in room K-A. Having a tooth fall out during nap time, causing disruption for the entire class. Having the bus driver forget to drop me off at my stop. My classmate Brian yanking down his pants in front of me and getting in trouble. Playing with the giant parachute and fleece balls in gym.
One particular memory that stood out for me was my kindergarten graduation ceremony. My sister Alyse, brother Aaron, and I had just got over a bout of chicken pox. Alyse, who was a year younger then me, refused to go to her pre-school graduation because she still had a dot on her nose. I wasn’t as vain.
It felt so much more grownup than pre-school graduation. Instead of just wearing a cap, we had dark blue gowns, our school color. We marched down the aisle to “Pomp and Circumstance,” just like we had practiced in the days before, and took our balloon-adorned seats on the stage-slash-altar (Catholic schools multi-tasked). The biggest moment, besides receiving our diplomas, was the recitation of our alphabet poem. In groups of three, we walked up to the front of the stage. I was the letter E, and had to recite, “E is for exercise and a good one for you is touching your toes without bending your knees” (while doing the very same). I still remember that line clearly. Any time I exercise (particularly the stretching part), I silently recite it in my head.
I’m still friends with many of St. Mary’s classmates – and some as far back as pre-school. We spent many ceremonies together on that stage: yearly awards presentations, First Communion, Reconciliation, our fifth grade DARE graduation, Confirmation, and finally, our eighth grade commencement. I wonder if any of them still remember their kindergarten poems.