Kindergarten Identity Crisis

Puff and the milkman_2

I attended kindergarten in Mexico City, where I lived  with my mother. She had originally moved to Mexico, she claimed later, because it was easier to live off my father’s army check there. When the checks stopped coming a year later, she had to go to work. She managed to get a job teaching first grade at “Escuela Moderna Americana”, a private, allegedly bilingual grade school. As a teacher’s kid I attended for free.

I loved school. I loved Dick and Jane, and especially Puff, sneaking onto the milk wagon. I loved the pristine large coloring books in which we did our first writing exercises. I loved the smell and feel of crayons; the fat ones.

As part of our “bilingual” education, we had a short lunch-time ritual. The teacher would hand out little triangular, crustless white bread sandwiches, and ask, in heavily accented English: “What are we having for lunch today?” In the same heavy accent, the students would dutifully reply: “We are having sandwiches.”

I was, of course, completely bilingual by this time, having spent my first four years in the U.S. and now a year in Mexico. But I wanted to blend in with the other kids, so I sing-songed the answer along with everyone else in my fake-Mexican accent.

One day I suddenly got inspired. I would still fit in, but I would also show off my extra knowledge and be special. “We are having sandwiches”, I piped along, then added to a silent room: “of cheese”.

The problem, I realized when the class broke out in giggles, is that “cheese” pronounced in Spanish is “chis”, (rhymes with “lease”), and this happens to be a slang word for urine, along the lines of “pee”.

I smile now as I think of it, but, obviously, I haven’t forgotten it. My mortification was complete.

This experience turned out to be a harbinger of many to come. My entire life I have tried, sometimes successfully, to fit in to society, and my entire life I have tried to shine via my intelligence, with mixed results.

If I had known this then, would I have kept myself from blurting out “of cheese!” or proudly showed off my perfect American accent in the first place?

I doubt it. It’s a lifetime’s journey to be who you are, and not try to be “more than” in the process.

Still on the path.

 

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Carrot Conceit

Here is a picture of some carrots that came out of my garden this morning. IMG_4374A woman showing these would say: “Here are some carrots I grew this year. Well, I had a lot of help, of course. They’re kind of crooked, because I didn’t get the soil prepared as well as I had hoped. I accidentally pulled out a couple that are too small, because I didn’t thin them soon enough. I think they’ve probably gotten a bit tough and bitter because I picked them too late in the season. And obviously, they need washing!”

A man would say: “Hey, lookit these great carrots I grew!”

Fellow blogger (I shall call her Marcie) just posted a beautiful braid she made from home-grown garlic. The title of her blog-post is: “Clearly there is room for improvement.” I rest my case. (To see her braid, go here): https://thevalliereblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/clearly-there-is-room-for-improvement/

I am far from a shrinking violet, and toot my own horn plenty. Yet I, too, often emphasize my failings when I blog. (Actually I find myself charming and funny when I do this.)

But not today! Today I am going to set aside self-put-downs, and share with you my utter delight in my garden this year. It’s the best garden I’ve ever grown, and I am filled with joy every time I step out my door. I’m going to make you look at the pictures as if they were my grandchildren, and I want to hear some “Awwwws”!

Enormous tomatillo, tomato and pepper patch this year!
Enormous tomatillo, tomato and pepper patch this year!

 Keyhole sustainable garden. This is its first year, converted from a square garden with compacted soil.

Keyhole sustainable garden. This is its first year, converted from a square garden with compacted soil.

First attempt at growing artichokes (from seed! in Virginia!)
First attempt at growing artichokes (from seed! in Virginia!)
Cantaloupe sprawling on the right, cover-crop buckwheat on the left, and second planting of pole beans in the middle
Cantaloupe sprawling on the right, cover-crop buckwheat on the left, and second planting of pole beans in the middle.
This nearly-ready beauty is a volunteer!
This nearly-ready beauty is a volunteer! (Note carrot leaves just behind.)
I live in a cozy mixed neighborhood. This is what folks walking down the sidewalk past my house see.
I live in a cozy mixed neighborhood. This is what folks see while walking down the sidewalk past my house.
View into the back garden from the side gate. Hydrangeas held up by a repurposed crib I found on the sidewalk.
View into the back yard from the side gate. Hydrangeas held up by a repurposed crib I found on the sidewalk.
Carrot Selfie!
Carrot Selfie! Note red carrot, which matches my magenta T-shirt!