At Our House, You Don’t Have to Hide Your Brussels Sprouts in Your Napkin. Hell–That’s Funny–Like You’d Be Given a Napkin at Our House

Here are my dominant memories of first grade:

1) I got chicken pox and stayed home from school for a week. It got a little long, that week of lolling around, scratching myself, but then my mom set a Mason jar of buttons next to me (which her mom had collected for decades), and suddenly the week had rattles and texture in addition to itching and scabs. Ha! That reminds me: when the first chicken pock erupted, my mom was certain her 6-year-old had a zit, so she popped it. To this day, I have a scar at the top of my nose, right between my eyes. Good thing I’m blind as Ray Charles in a ninja costume at midnight on the winter solstice in the Arctic Circle and, thus, have to wear glasses, the frames of which cover up the scar that my mother, in her crazy need to squeeze any blemish within arm’s length, inflicted upon me;

2) My first grade teacher, Mrs. Bulger, was a fearsome thing. Then she got cancer in her arm and went away for a few weeks, and when she came back, she only had one arm. Note to Spielberg: if you ever want to produce a horror film for 6-year-olds, have it be one in which their teacher goes away and comes back less one arm plus a belly full of pain and rage.

Actually, as an adult, I feel nothing but agony for Mrs. Bulger. I cannot imagine how awful that year was for her, and she had every right to become even more cantankerous;

3) However, she had no right to call my mom and schedule a meeting about the fact that I liked to carry, um, about 62 pencils to school everyday in my lunchbox. I even had a huge, thick one with a plastic White House where the eraser belonged, and I’d used it up enough that it would actually fit diagonally into my lunch box, along with all sorts of other really cool pencils with groovy erasers. That I had such a collection with me each day seemed fitting in an “open” school–one with no walls (it was the ’70s); that I had a teacher who got mad at me for bringing a far out collection of pencils to school everyday and who went so far as to call in my mom and put the kibosh on all extraneous pencil carrying…well, that was just Old School, one-armed or not.

So there you have it: my best recollections of being six. Naturally, I have no idea what memories my kids will retain of their early years (probably Mommy being really tired, and then Mommy sleeping a lot), but if I had my way, I’d always like for Paco to remember the Day He Assaulted Vegetables.

Warning: this video is thin on plot but rich in character development and cultural insight. Plus, anytime your narrator sounds like she’s on the verge of expiring of TB, you have to wonder about her reliability as a conveyor of point of view–and that right there is damn intriguing, inn’t, Gentle Watcher?

Oh yea, and then there’s the sunflower at the end, used both as aggressor and instrument of denouement. I know.

You. can. HARDLY. wait.




15 responses to “At Our House, You Don’t Have to Hide Your Brussels Sprouts in Your Napkin. Hell–That’s Funny–Like You’d Be Given a Napkin at Our House”

  1. Pam Avatar

    My main recollection at six was being chased by a horse through a field on my way home from school, and bitten on the behind by it's enormous chompers. The field is now gone (retirement village), but what has remained is my fear of horses and anyone with overly large teeth who look like they could bite my behind when I run.If I had a Paco, I'm sure my fears would dissipate in the light of such a "go get 'em" attitude.How were the sprouts? I cook them, sprinkle on some salt and eat them with thick fresh bread and butter.Yum.

  2. phd in yogurtry Avatar
    phd in yogurtry

    Sunflower man meets Pyramid man, next bathroom installment?

    When I was six years old, I was having my hand slapped with a ruler by a nun in full regalia. An entirely different right to be cantankerous.

  3. Patois Avatar

    Open school? You, too? Attacking vegetables will be a much happier memory.

  4. Pearl Avatar

    Six and seven were not good to me, so I'll pass, but had to comment and tell you that I, too, would have been bitter over being asked not to bring all my pencils to school.



  5. Michelle Wells Grant Avatar
    Michelle Wells Grant

    Damn, the video isn't working for me! I'll have to check back because now I must, must, must see! Mrs. Bulger has ME trembling! I can't imagine the horror!

  6. Angela Avatar

    There were 35 kids in my 1st grade class, and the Chicken Pox epidemic went around that year too. So much so that there were only seven of us one day in class–the rest were out with Chicken Pox. Crazy, right?

  7. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    Brussels sprouts are the one vegetable I don't care much for. Well, that and things like turnip greens. The bitter stuff. So if it were me, I'd chop them down pre-harvest.

    Wow, cancer in the arm. Who knew?

  8. Jeni Avatar

    Boy, you are really asking a lot out of an old-timer like me to remember back to my first grade years! That was almost 60 years ago now ya know. Some hard thinking though and I do recall that is the year that I too contracted chicken pox. (Why do they say that -"Contracted?" I never contracted with anyone for anything like that! But yes, I too had a week of being out of school and waited on, hand and foot by my Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa too -who read to me, entertained me. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Wasseen, was notorious for carrying a ruler around and cracking knuckles on her students who weren't following her directives on how to print properly! Sure am glad I didn't have her teaching me Peterson Penmanship as my writing -always atrocious to begin with -would have caused me to have had constant black and blue fingers and hands I'm afraid!

  9. Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings Avatar
    Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings

    whoa! He is going to town on those plants! What have you done to him so horrid that he must work out such frustrations?

    Hmmm…when I was six I remember…um…nothing much actually. I remember passing out in kindergarten class and in my dream, as I passed out, I was spinning down a spiral tunnel, around and around and around like in a drug induced video from the 70s. No idea where that image came from, but that's how it was.

  10. flutter Avatar

    so the lesson we should take from this, is that you are indeed, pretty blind?

  11. lime Avatar

    we won't go into my memories of age 6 as they are not particularly happy.

    as for paco, i hope he retains all the memories of being a vegetable warrior. i hope one day when he is old and perhpas toothless and requiring all his veggies to be pureed, that he shares with the whippersnappers around him how he was responsible for the felling of the brussels sprouts. (allow me to say i think they should have been felled well before they were every permitted to yield their vile harvest, but this is the one point of digression between you and me, dear psychic sister).

    oh, and if i were your mother i'd have sent an even larger pencils collection. weren't there any actual problem children in your class that your one armed teacher had to get riled over excess of pencils? sheesh.

  12. ds Avatar

    Great video! No Brussel sprout will ever be safe again! As for the teacher, that is scary.On several levels. The pencil ban makes no sense at all. Such is life.

  13. Midlife Jobhunter Avatar
    Midlife Jobhunter

    I loved that last line – head into the winter.

    As the mother of three boys, I'm thinking Paco needs a more effective weapon to really rid himself of all that boys hold.

    Brussel sprouts – just bought them at the grocery store. Envious yours are right from the garden. Will add the seseme oil and enjoy. I think I would have liked growing up in your household.

  14. Jazz Avatar

    Heh… my computer won't run the video, bloody minded thing that it is.

    I have a chicken pox scar at the top of my forehead. But I inflicted it on myself.

  15. chelle Avatar

    Six is such an amazing year (aren't they all?!?).

    I was totally and absolutely into reading. It was a whole new world to explore and help me escape the one I was living in.

    Let's hope once my kids are six they are not longing to escape quite so eagerly 😛

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