Your name means the "children's garden." And that is exactly what you were to me.
We had a rocky start. I wanted to stay home with my mom and watch Annie over and over. It didn't matter how fun my two older sisters said it was. I remember throwing a crying fit the entire way to school.
When we got to my class, the teacher calmly greeted my agitated little self, gently grabbed my flailing hand and whisked me through the classroom. I remember her kneeling down and talking to me with a flowing and enthusiastic voice. She showed me my desk, the bathroom, all the different toys. Then I saw the easel.
My eyes lit up with the moment I saw an easel for the very first time. It invited me with paint sitting in the cups, just waiting the be brushed on the paper.
I immediately asked if I could paint "right now". I don't think it was the first thing on the agenda. But in her teacher-wisdom, she hesitated and said yes. I remember her showing me how to put on my apron, and the rest of the world faded away. I was in my happy place.
We had short days that somehow squeezed in nap times, snack times, and play times. Our classrooms had home centers with kid-sized ironing boards. Some of us had work benches with real cutting saws. I'd never seen so many crayons, scissors and glue bottles.
I still remember parts of the Hawaii state song, Pearly Shells, and learning my colors in the Hawaiian language. We played outside each day, and I couldn't wait to rush over to the swing or race down the slide.
The next day and every school day thereafter, my older sisters walked me to school, and each day I looked forward to it. To sum it up, kindergarten was awesome!
As far as I remember, we just played. I looked at the pictures of books without any pressure to read. And I colored to my heart's content.
I thought that kindergarten would be like this forever. But now I hear about a different kindergarten.
A kindergarten where free play is being replaced by tests. Where imaginative play stands in the shadow of academic rigor.
A kindergarten where the dress-up area is quickly vanishing. I fear that soon it will be a fading memory. Just like the block center.
I wish kids these days could play the way I used to.
I wish that it was about learning social skills, how to cut, and play games.
I wish that my own children could experience the magic and enchantment that I found.
I look back and wish that kindergarten could go back to the way I used to know it. The days when it was the children's garden. My garden.
Kindergarten, I really miss you.