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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Head in the Monkey Bars

Who gets their head stuck in the monkey bars? 
How stupid do you have to be to get your head stuck in monkey bars?
How big does your head have to be to get it stuck in the monkey bars?

Me.  Not that stupid.  Depends on the monkey bars.  It was '83, okay?

In 1983, a lot of things were different.  Kindergarten was split into two times, AM and PM.  We watched The Letter People.  We painted and used typewriters and played in small wood and plastic kitchens.  We read books in an old metal and ceramic claw-footed tub.We went on field trips and rode in the teacher's car (I did, anyway).  There were swings on the playground--swings!  We also played on hobbit-sized playground equipment made by people who didn't know kids have big heads.  Everything was right in my world as far as I could tell and I definitely had the world's best kindergarten teacher.

Her name was Mrs. Senn and she was an absolute angel with her curly brown hair and sunshine eyes.  She taught me patience, kindness, tolerance, and self-acceptance.  This is the same teacher who sent me, with several other students, to the kindergarten playground alone.  I'm guessing that this was perfectly acceptable given the year.  We were just a few feet from the classroom door. The door had a window, a sliver of a window. I'm sure she was checking on us occasionally.  I certainly never worried that anything would happen to me or any of my friends. 

I don't remember what I was thinking before I climbed the ladder up the tiny monkey bars.  I just remember that they were a little taller than me and silvery smooth.  I remember being at the top, getting freaked out because the skinny little rungs were pressing into my knee caps, and knowing that I HAD to get down.
 I sat down and put my legs between two of the rungs.  Definitely big enough for the rest of me, I thought.  I slid my chubby little body through, no problem.  Apparently, even I had no idea how big my head was because I came to a stop with my toes barely touching the sand and my head definitely stuck above the bars.  I tried to pull myself back up with my noodly kid arms, but just couldn't do it.  I did the only thing a kid could do in my unusual situation.  I cried for help.

I remember one of the other kids running to the classroom to get the teacher.  Mrs. Senn ran out with a milk crate for me to climb up on.  She helped me get back up through the top and comforted me just like I would comfort one of my students today.  I still feel like that kid getting her head stuck in the monkey bars.  I put the cart before the horse.  I forget to consider the obvious.  I think I can do anything, but get scared when I go too far, too deep, too fast. 

Aren't we all just on one big set of monkey bars, trying to keep going, trying to hang on?  Mrs. Senn isn't around to save me any more.  I have to cry out for help from my friends, family, God.  I guess we all do.  Who's bringing you a milk crate the next time you get stuck?  You can't stand on your tippy toes forever.

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