Tales of a soon-to-be kindergartener

On the brink of her scholastic years, Kita Szpak recalls the impressions of her four-year-old self


Imagine yourself at four years of age. Where did you live? Who were your friends? What did you like? What did you dislike? As you well may know, kids that age have very pronounced opinions. Their world is absolute: it’s a very simple universe that is black and white, with no in-between. The stage is now set and in I go — as absolute as they come.

Feisty, enthusiastic, and full of energy, I was a force to be reckoned with even though my petite, blonde appearance initially served as excellent camouflage. It may have had something to do with having two brothers and being the youngest (albeit a twin arriving 15 minutes later).  I had no trouble venturing down the street sidewalk on my own and was sorely tested to round the corner, but knew better. Mom and Dad had set down a few specific rules which in my world, were law. Otherwise, I would have to forfeit watching Walt Disney.

Having an older brother who had already started school, I was well aware of this amazing adventure — as I saw it — that he was having.  He got a special knapsack to carry his school stuff in and got to ride a school bus which seemed like heaven to me. Climbing those steep steps and sitting up high above everyone else… how wonderful! I couldn’t wait to have my turn, too.  Soon enough, I would have my chance. 

Apparently, the kindergarten classes were crowded the year I was able to enroll. Nevertheless, it was decided that all eligible children should have the opportunity to experience a day of school within our city. At least, this is the way I, as a four-year-old, remember it.

Excited beyond even meeting Mickey Mouse, I suffered my first disappointment. There was no bus to take me. Mom walked me to the nearby school and in I went along with a host of other newbies. I recall wooden tables and chairs sized for kids like us with a large floor space in the middle of the classroom. On the sides were shelves of books, toys, puzzles and balls, all of which I wanted to try out then and there. But no! The teacher, of which there was one, marshalled us to assigned spots where we sat and listened to what she had to say.

I don’t remember what she had to say. I don’t even remember what she looked like. I guess she made no impression on me whatsoever, but what she did next, I will never forget. She pulled out a sack of towels — orange, yellow, brown striped ones – not my palate at all — handed one to each of us, and then showed us how to lay our towel down flat on the floor. We were now to nap — lie down on said towel and rest.

Rest? In the daytime? I had never heard of this. While the other kids dutifully lay down, I remained standing until I was physically helped to lie down and rest. My eyes remained open as they darted about, given the fact they were the only thing I could move at this point. “This was school?” I thought to myself. And right then and there, I decided I would have none of it.

Once we were dismissed, I bounded out of that classroom like a freed prisoner. When Mom asked me how I liked school, I said, “I’m never going back — not to that school!”

Luckily, another school was fortunate enough to have me for Grade 1.