From embryo to imbecile: Chapter 5
Jan. 12, 2001
Welcome back to my memoirs, "From Embryo to Imbecile." It has been a while since Chapter 4, so let me give you a brief outline of what we have covered so far. In late 1962, I was conceived. By the early part of 1963, I had developed toes and eyelids. On the 1st day of August 1963, I was born. I spent 1964 through 1967 trying to master skills such as bowel control, motor function, language arts, bi-pedal transportation and proper etiquette.
By September of 1968, I was a fully functional 5-year old child, who was ready to tackle the world of academia. It was time for me to leave the safety and comfort of my home and head out into the real world. I was about to embark on a new and exciting period of my life that I like to refer to as "The Grade School Years." First stop: Kindergarten.
1968 was one of the most tumultuous years in our nation's history. Young men were being shipped home from Vietnam in body bags. The cause of civil rights had created rioting in the streets of our cities. Political figures were being assassinated at the alarming rate of three per hour. And students at Kent State University were gunned down for the sole purpose of providing lyrics for a Crosby, Stills and Nash song.
The nation was in turmoil and I couldn't care less. I had my own problems. I didn't want to leave my mother. I wanted to stay home, watch "Let's Make a Deal" and play with my Matchbox cars. I had heard terrible things about kindergarten. My brothers had told me how all of the "kindergarten babies" had to "stick their heads in gravy" and I simply wanted no part of it.
I soon found out that, in spite of what they tell you, we don't really live in a "free society." The day before school was to start, I sat my parents down and told them, "I've decided that I'm not going to attend kindergarten. However, I promise to continue my studies with Romper Room's Miss Molly and the Magic Mirror.
My father looked at me and said, "You have to go to school. It's the law. If those kids at Kent State would have been in the classroom like they were supposed to, they never would have been shot."
I quickly decided that having your head stuck in gravy was a better alternative than being gunned down by the National Guard.
My first day of kindergarten was one of the most traumatic days of my life. I couldn't believe that my Mother had simply dropped me off in the company of all of these complete strangers. How did she know that all these other kids weren't Viet Cong?
Even though my first teacher, Mrs. Smith (yes, her real name), seemed nice enough, I was absolutely terrified. I was doing everything I could to hold back my tears. Unfortunately, I was concentrating so hard on holding off my tears that I forgot to hold back something much, much worse. I pooped in my pants.
I've reflected back on that horrible day a million times, yet I still don't know exactly how it happened. I had gained full control of my bowels a few years earlier and had never had an "accident" before. Many questions surrounding this incident still haunt me to this day. Why hadn't I gone to the bathroom before I left the house? Why didn't I simply ask, "Where is the bathroom?" Had I eaten prunes that morning? Why in the world would I decide that during story time, while sitting Indian style, in a semi-circle with my classmates, that this would be a good time to let go in my pants?
As soon as I did it, I knew I had made a horrible mistake. I don't know if it was the smell that gave me away or the uncomfortable look on my face, but it only took a few moments before Mrs. Smith put down her book, grabbed me by the arm, and pulled me away towards the bathroom.
As I threw my underwear into the trash and struggled to clean myself up, I burst into a fit of uncontrollable sobbing. In spite of Mrs. Smith's attempts, I could not be consoled and my mother was called to come pick me up.
I can only imagine how embarrassed my mother was when she was told to come pick up her soiled and sobbing, 5 year old, pathetic excuse of a son.
That evening, I received a very serious lecture regarding how I had shamed the family and that if it ever happened again, I would wake up next to a horse's head.
The next morning I steered clear of the cereals heavy in fiber and made sure to use the facilities at home, before returning to my kindergarten class. I was determined to get through the day without making in my pants.
I not only made it through day number two (pun unintended) but I made it through the rest of kindergarten without having another accident.
Unfortunately, I did have to go through the rest of the year with the other kids referring to me as "Poopy Pants," but I like to think it only prepared me for the challenges that lie ahead in First Grade.
Jim Cegielski writes weekly for The Meridian Star.