Thursday, January 22, 2009

Things I Never Heard at Robert F. Nicely

Ages ago, I went to elementary school. I actually had the excitement of going to a brand spankin' new school that was constructed in 19-something-late-middle when I was in third grade. It was truly state-of-the-art with a cool "multi-purpose room" that had these cool foldy-up tables so that you could eat lunch AND have gym in the same place. The design of the school possessed these cool grade "pods". Circular buildings were separated in to five or so pie shaped slices with movable walls. We all said the Pledge of Allegiance together in the morning and then tried to focus on what was going on inside our slices versus the more interesting antics of Mrs. Burkheart's class in the adjacent one. And, while it was brandy-new, it still had mimeograph machines (loved that smell), film strip projectors and lunch trays with tiny milk boxes with the pictures of the presidents - - how else would I know who Woodrow Wilson was? In other words, it was the 60's

I was thinking about this the other evening after I heard Henry make a comment at dinner that made me laugh out loud. It was then that it occurred to me in a dead-on certain way, that there are things that Henry says about 4th grade that I would never have heard during my time at Robert F. Nicely Elementary:
  • In response to the question "where is the lost and found?" - -"You know Mom -- it's right near the compost pile beside the school."
  • "Of course we play dodge ball!! We play with Nerf Balls and the little kids get to play too!"
  • "Mom, you can't put M&Ms in those cookies. Elliot is allergic to artificial coloring."
  • "Jumbo, Jumbo Bwana, Habai gami, mzuri sana" (Kenyan folksong - -unofficial school Alma mater)
  • "I really hope that Obama wins tomorrow. If not, three of my classmates are leaving the country."

So, I hearken back to the olden days when the compost pile was called the dumpster; where big strong kids whipped hard red playground balls at each other and little kids were excluded unless they were willing to take the risk of those faint bruises that appeared when you didn't "dodge" quickly enough; where the only allergies that we knew of were those kids that blew up like balloons when they got stung by bees; where we sang American the Beautiful in the morning right after the Pledge; and where no 4th grader knew very much about politics and certainly not enough to decide that they were potentially going to leave the country if things didn't go their way.

I have no opinion which was better or worse. The point is - - it's just different. I suspect that some folks probably had compost piles in the 60's. But certainly not with the enthusiasm and sense of public purpose that our kids (at least in SF) do. Hell, Henry chastised me the other day for putting a paper napkin in the regular garbage. He said, "Mom that's not very responsible or earth-friendly."

And while I know that he is right (the little wise-acre), there's a part of me that just doesn't want to scrutinize the recyclable properties of everything that I need to get rid of. Food? Paper? Food soiled paper? What kind of little triangular recycling thing is that? Can someone please find my glasses so I can see what number is inside the little triangular recycling symbol??? What I sometimes really want to do is just throw it away where it is then hauled to the dumpster. You know, the dumpster. The place where the school bullies used to skulk around, smoke cigarettes and count the lunch money that they stole. You know - - the place where the compost pile is now located. You know - - the compost pile that is ecologically breaking down our bio-degradable Nerf balls and finger-painted "Yes We Can" posters.

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