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Kindergarten

This is my 5th birthday, one full year before I started kindergarten. I had Mrs. Biondo for the afternoon session of kindergarten at Cutler Ridge Elementary. I took swimming lessons at Cutler Ridge pool in the morning. I walked to school across the park. I wore one of my fathers discarded dress shirts backwards as a smock when I painted at the easel. On the first day of kindergarten, there was a little boy who was very sick with a high fever, obviously terrified and spoke only Spanish. A different boy came out of the bathroom with his shorts and underwear down around his ankles pleading for the teacher to come wipe his hiney. I refused to holds hands with Timothy Dayton in line: girls on one side, boys on the other. I learned my colors by memorizing the pattern of giant construction paper ducks staples high on the wall: redorangeyellowgreenbluepurplebrownblack. I learned my numbers. I learned my alphabet. I took a nap everyday during that afternoon, half day session. I built castles with cardboard “bricks” and played house and kitchen. What I did not do and did not know and had no fear of was a deranged gun man coming into the classroom and killing me and all my classmates. My own sons had bliss and ignorance in kindergarten, too until September 11th. Cameron was in kindergarten that year. That was the year it changed and innocence was lost for me as a mother. I am sad for the parents who sent their babies to school today and who have an empty bed tonight. I am sad for the parents in Newtown who thankfully (and perhaps guiltily) tucked their babies into bed tonight, having brought them home alive (but not unharmed). Grief washes over me, engulfs me, flays my senses and slays my soul. I cannot fathom the depth of sorrow felt in this town. I feel their grief hundreds of miles away. I will pray. I know nothing else to offer.

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