October Memoir-And-Backstory-Blog-Challengecreated and hosted by Jane Ann McLachlan
Milk of Unkindess
Milk of Unkindess
I loved my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Pearl Rosenbloom (last name changed to protect her family although she was far from innocent). I loved my teacher until that spring morning when she transformed from a revered adminsitrator of order and safety into something else altogether.
It seemed I had waited my entire life for school to begin and I was beyond thrilled when, finally shortly after my fifth birthday it did. School was everything I imagined and more - my teacher's name in black dark ink on a placard in a paned window of our heavy oaked door was PEARL, my own up-until-that-very-moment reviled name. The world was rapidly changing and I was caught up in nearly delerious delight. Mrs. Rosenbloom had a small child's xylophone with keys in primary colors and a small smooth raw wood hammer with which she would strike three keys STOP, LOOK and LISTEN. We were instructed to do just that, and as the clear notes rang out in the sunshafted early morning light coming in through the high, very high windows, the childish laughter and chatter stilled and we took our seats quietly.
It was my first "Snack Time." one of the things I had needed to remember earlier that morning was to give Mrs. Rosenbloom, my "milk-money" - I had clutched the coin in my palm so tightly that it was a relief to relinquish it to one of my new classmates who had been almost immediately recruited to be "milk-money-monitor," and now some hour or two later we were obviously to reap the reward as we sat in in our tiny chairs, four to a table and waited as the door opened and a carton of small milk containers was deposited on Mrs. Rosenbloom's desk by the tallest boy that I had ever seen. In short order, we were called table by table, six in all, I believe, to come up and retrieve our milk - there was a choice of regular or quite unexpectedly "chocolate" - I has never before known that chocolate milk could be had in a container pre-made such as the one sitting before me, including a paper-wrapped straw. Although my feet didn't quite reach the ground without stretching a bit, I was completely relaxed and quite thoroughly happy, School, was simply wonderful. A place of orderly bliss, no crying baby, no frantic rushing about to get things done. Order and calm and fairness and peace and kindness to one another. At least, it was so for another moment. And then Mrs. Rosenbloom called "Amy! - Come here!" and Amy, a girl in a thin cotton plaid dress, with dark brown oxford shoes and plain white socks. Amy, with brown hair cut as though a bowl had been placed on her head leaving her straight bangs that fell almost covering her downcast eyes - Amy stood and walked to Mrs. Rosenbloom. Mrs. Rosenbloom. Mrs. PEARL Rosenbloom who lifted Amy up onto the very first table nearest the teachers' desk and instructed us all to "look at a girl who was too poor to afford milk money." And we looked, and as I did, my heart swelled with unshed tears and I wished I could rush up there and pull Amy down from the top of that desk and take her place, because my heart was already pounding as I was sure hers was and my face burned as I could see hers flamed. The chocolate milk was warmish and tasted vaguely sour, by the time Amy was back in her seat and I took my first sip.