FIRST MRS. BLAIRE AND THEN, MRS. PARKS: Memories

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Memories on a day like today are sent from the forces that rule our world. Memories are truths melted and meshed into what we want them to be and sometimes they feel soothing, refreshing and other times formulate grating and abrasive points of view.

For example, the first day at Mrs. Blaire’s Day Care Center was the beginning of my psychological hell in the real world of humans on a larger scale. My mother and I climbed the stairs to the day care center and I knocked on the door. The door opened wide, SHE, Mrs. Blaire loomed large, and looking up into her gigantic, flared nostrils, I thought I was going to be sucked up into them. I imagined a life of flying around in her funny, fluffy body. Not only did her huge nostrils suck, flap and wave, her teeth were fangs and I was certain she was an eater of little children. I began to scream and kick my mother. Mrs. Blaire said to my dear shy mother, “Leave her here, we know how to handle little kickers and screamers.” My mother came back to pick me up, day after day, to reports of a little girl who kicked and screamed the entire day. Finally, Old Huge Nostrils told my mother that perhaps her little girl was not ready for her establishment. In hindsight, Mrs. B., you were not ready for me. Poor dear well meaning Mrs. Blaire is long dead in her grave, and look at me, speaking to the dead. I learned then and there that if you kick and scream, you get to go home and stay there until Kindergarten, or in this 21st century, kicking and screaming can get you institutionalized.

Remember the book, ALL YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW YOU LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN? Maybe it is true. I was taught by Mrs. Parks, my Kindergarten teacher, that someone could dislike all that you are and do. Mrs. Parks told me I was such a sloppy child and a very messy painter. I got into my passions all those years ago, and I still do. She said that I had the dirtiest face in the entire world. Impossible! My mother was an obsessive clean freak. Mrs. Parks was so innocent that she did not know I was beige, and that the sun had ripened, browned, and glazed my skin. My mother used to take me downtown on a trolley and I noticed there were people with dirtier faces than mine. Duh? Oh my Mrs. Parks, I didn’t have the dirtiest face in town after all, you should have ridden the trolley downtown a few times. Now, I am so glad that that is settled.

Mrs. Parks said that if I knocked all the blocks down one more time, God would punish me. I got into talking with God. I didn’t know then that I was praying, but a lot of pray talking was done. I learned in those talks to listen. Learning to listen is a lifelong task. In Mrs. Parks Kindergarten class, I began my lifelong passion of listening!

Mrs. Parks said that my kind wasn’t what people really wanted and that I would always be in someone’s way. It took me many years to understand what she meant. She meant that I would suffer the prejudices of many generations. From the day I began and left Kindergarten, I gained an understanding of my role in the world and my need to weather the storms of unkindly words from all of the Mrs. Parks I would encounter. My soul and my work never recovered until yesterday. Yesterday created an altercation and transformation of all that I have known. I threw off the camouflage and came into being. I am that messy, sloppy, screaming, kicking, dirty-faced kid, afraid of being sucked up into the nostrils of some giant, but finally I understand, and I am content with it all. You will find a Mrs. Parks around many corners, and now that you know about her, you can shake the evils off before they stick. Start shaking! Shake! Shake! Shake!