Monday, February 28, 2011

How I spent my first day of kindergarten dressed like a clown

For the 100th time I put my foot down against wearing an ensemble my mother had made. I was not against the idea of homemade garb, but I was vehemently against her hideous items. I was NOT going to look like a fool on the first day of kindergarten. I had been looking forward to going to school for a couple of years, I knew there would be all sorts of new people to meet and talk to and my inner social butterfly was bursting out of her cocoon. I needed to put my best dressed foot forward. I was not going to ruin this very special day by wearing either the leopard print imitation hammer pants or any one of the numerous jumpsuits she was fond of sewing.

There were certain things she had made me that I loved; my winter knit cap with NATASHA embroidered on it complete with a puffy yarn ball on top, all my doll and Barbie clothes and an ivory and pink dress that had long ago become too small for me, but I hung onto in the hope I’d fit into it again. One day…

Where her clothes failed me, personally, were in material choice and design pattern. Both were unimaginative and straight out of the clearance bin. The very BOTTOM of the clearance bin. A dollar per yard typically bought you a color that could not be found in nature with some sort of reject print, usually biblical in theme. The neon sea foam green dress with Noah’s Ark dotted all over it did not last long in my closet.

In addition to my very own original garments, I received my sister’s hand-me-down. I usually went out of my way to lose or ruin them. After learning that ripping or tearing them would only get me a nicely stitched scar in the ugly pants, I almost gave up. But staining them opened new doors. Permanent markers could be found in the kitchen utensil drawer, however, I quickly learned that purposefully writing your own name on your own pants is really, really hard to pass off as an accident.

I hadn’t gotten around to destroying my most hated piece; The Clown Jumpsuit. Red corduroy with lots of balloons and ribbons of varying primary colors complete with a huge, white, lace-trimmed collar. A collar whose size and stiffness rivaled most of the collars sported by clowns. Needless to say, I refused to wear it on my first day of school.

Ironically enough, I do not remember what I was wearing when I boarded the big yellow school bus, but I remember meeting my new best friend, Debbie. Debbie was blonde, leggy and outspoken- everything I wanted to be. My pudgy legs got me around OK and my mass of course, curly hair would not be tamed for another 13 years. We bonded over the things typical 5 year olds bond over. Favorite colors, animals and pudding snacks.

She was the only child, a concept that I have very limited exposure to, and got to eat name brand cereal. Her clothes were bought from real stores and didn’t have previous owners such as her older sister or complete strangers – or both. By the time we arrived at school we had become bosom buddies and I promised her an invite to my birthday party. I hoped we were in the same class.
Giddy with first day jitters, we slid out of the green vinyl seat and marched down the aisle. We made our way down the bus stairs, I was in the lead. Halfway down, I hear a moan followed by a nauseous groan and turn around just in time to watch Debbie vomit all over my chest, legs and a bit on my chin. Since she was on the step above me, gravity made sure that I caught ALL of the puke. What are friends for, right? I stood there in shock, frozen and disgusted simultaneously. I remember the thought “Throw up is all over me! Throw up is all over me! Throw up is all over me!” looping through my head. Apparently Cheerios and Malt-o-Meal Toasted Os digest the same.

The nurse took care of ill-stomached Debbie, school policy dictated she go home. Her mom was summoned and she lay down on the back cot to wait. I, on the other hand, just needed new clothes. The nurse did her best to clean me off to make me most comfortable and while she was wiping off my pants she informed me that someone had contacted my mother, told her what had happened and asked her to bring a new set of clothes.

This all sounded fine and acceptable for about a half of a second. Then from with the pit of my stomach came a bad feeling. My 5-year old woman’s intuition had already developed. She was en route with the clown jumper – I just KNEW it – and there was nothing I could do about it. Sitting on the couch, I began rocking back and forth muttering “please not the jumper, anything but the jumper, god, if you care about me at all you will have her bring something else. EVEN THE LEOPARD PRINT IMMITATION HAMMER PANTS” To me the only thing worse than spending the day in vomit soaked clothes would be to spend the day in that wretched and vile oversized onesie.

I held out hope for as long as I could. When my mom came through the door I sent one last plea out to whatever deity would listen to me. “I will serve you unconditionally and go forth and be a soldier in your name if in her bag are hand me down jeans and a puff paint t-shirt I made at Vacation Bible Study!” My pleading with God was in vain. I cannot claim to have been surprised when my mom pulled out the clown jumper. Had she picked it on purposed DESPITE or INSPITE of my refusal to wear it? I could not tell. She might have just forgotten that I was the daughter that hated this particular garment. Maybe she saw it as an opportunity to teach me a lesson about being thankful to have clean, warm clothing. Or, most likely, she saw that it was pretty hilarious that after spending an entire morning arguing with her about what to wear – someone up-chucks all over me and she’s able to win the battle after-all.

Since there was no other choice than for me to slip into the bathroom and change, I begrudgingly did so. I realized it was futile to argue with my mom and even though I almost asked her to go get something else. Who was I kidding to believe she would actually make another round trip for a different change of clothes.

And that is how I spent my first day of kindergarten dressed like a clown.

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