Monday, October 19, 2015

The Little Drummer Girl

When I decided to do my October list of things to bring me joy one of the things on the list was to write about 3 specific childhood memories.  I thought as long as I was writing them anyway I might as well share them with the world.  As you will soon see I either have no shame or I am a deeply scarred individual in need of intense therapy.  You decide.

When I was growing up there was no such thing as public kindergarten.  Instead there were several private homes with a preschool, some churches had them, and just about every community center had a kindergarten. I don't know how many kids went or how many had their beginning educational experiences in public school's first grade.  I am assuming there were many who didn't go since I specifically remember my first grade class teacher having to teach some of the class how to print the alphabet and all the primary colors.

I was one of the lucky ones who got to go.  I am not sure if my parents wanted it as a learning experience, or if Mom just needed a break from me every morning.  Mine was at our  local Community Center in the park Monday-Friday from 9-12, and I loved nearly every minute of it. I imagine Mother loved every minute of it also.

My teacher, Mrs. Bradford was a very kind older lady (perhaps 45, funny how perception changes isn't it?) but she unknowingly both insulted and embarrassed me on the first day of class.  She went from chair to chair asking if we knew how to print our names.  Most of the class didn't and I was so proud that Dad had taught me how to spell and write my name.  When she got to me I told her I could and she asked me if I would print it, so I did.  In all uppercase letters, just as my dad had taught me. My feelings of being special were quickly gone when she chided me for using the wrong case.  I guess you could say I got a very early lesson on the dangers of pride, but I was a quick learner and never made the uppercase/lowercase mistake again. After that did pretty much everything I could to be as close to perfect as possible.

Fast forward to the annual Community Christmas Pageant.  Our whole kindergarten was abuzz.  We were going to put on a show and in my 5 year old mind it would be F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!  I think for the most part it was the traditional Christmas story with a little Santa Claus action thrown in at the end of the show.  Of course every girl in the school wanted to be Mary, it was the plum girl part, followed by the angel to announce the Good Tidings and all that.  Well I wasn't chosen for Mary or the angel but that was no problem.  There was still some sheep and the heavenly angel choir girl parts.  I was not chosen as a sheep either, no problem.

The angels were kind of like a chorus line, with pretty little petite girl angels in white robes with tinsel covered coat hanger halos.  The angels would be singing and doing some angelic interpretive dance.  I was so excited, after all, I was blond and blue eyed and had a fairly sweet looking face. Plus Mother always called me her angel. I thought I was in like Flint.

It turned out I might have been my mom's angel, but I was her rather tall angel and would have looked out of place with the cute little angel chorus line, so at 5 I discovered my entire elementary calling__ to be cast with the guys. (Until I was in the 8th grade I was the tallest person in my class, then the world caught up with and passed me. After all, I quit growing when I was 10 years old) There was always some guy who was tall for his age, and I was always his counterpart balancing out whatever line needed balancing.

Oh well, so what if I was the ONLY girl who was a drummer boy? I would still get to wear lipstick and have my hair curled and I had a fairly decent singing voice so everything would be ok.  I would just play my drums for him pa-rum-pa-pa-pum and be the cutest little tallish drummer girl ever.

The night of the big event came and the place was packed__with parents, grandparents and brothers and sisters of the kindergarten kids. To my eyes though, I was going to get my big theatrical break, playing to a full house.  We lined up in the wings in order of appearance, drummer boys being last of course since we came after the birth story, the angels, the animals, the shepherds, and the wise men. Yep the drummers were last, but what a better place in a production than to have the entire stage at the end? It would be memorable.

Well, the show took a little while as shows with kids always do, and I was getting wiggly.  My one hour bladder was yelling at me so I asked the helper if I could go to the restroom very quickly. NO??? What adult in their right mind tells a kid doing the potty dance no?  As I mentioned before I tried to always be the model student, so when she told me no and just to hold it, I did.  We walked out on stage, me and the guys and I held it, and sang, and played my drum, until holding it was no longer an option.

When you look at the pictures taken from the audience that night you will see a line of happy drummer boys and one drummer girl wearing a look of abject horror and a tale tell dark track down the leg of her drummer boy pants.

And my career as a stage performer ended that night!


  1. I love hearing peoples stories and especially enjoyed this one. I too was one of the tallest in the class and also wet my pants in first grade waiting to be released for recess. I had a puddle all around my seat and a wet green gingham dress. There was no public kindergarten either where I lived and my parents couldn't afford to send me to the ones at the churches. (Our town wasn't big enough for a community center.) However, everyday while my sister took a nap, I had "school" with my mother. By the time I got to first grade, I had already read my reading book and would whisper what would happen next to the kids beside me. These were Dick and Jane books. I don't know how I could give away the story because there is no story to them. However, my teacher did not like my talking. This was not the first or last time I got in trouble for talking in class.

    Great picture. You were so cute. You look just like Shirley Temple.

  2. Dad taught me to read so I was reading before school also. I thought the Dick and Jane books were tedious, but I read them because I had to.
    I did not get in trouble for talking but I got in big trouble for drawing a picture of a woman with cleavage.

    1. Cleavage? Times were different when I was young. I don't think I ever saw cleavage.

    2. The women on the maternal side of my family were all extremely "healthy". I was just drawing what I saw regularly as normal. For them the only way to have no cleavage would have been to always wear a turtleneck.

  3. Oh my goodness, Anne! You were SO CUTE! I was going to say you look like Shirley Temple and then I read live and learn's comment and she said the same thing! This story made me smile- I think there are many of us who have stories of our younger selves and 'accidents' in school or other public places. :)

  4. I still think I should have been an angel!