May 2022


Vignettes from Childhood: 5

I don’t actually remember much about kindergarten, other than the fact that my teacher was Ms. Stein (probably Mrs. Or Miss, but I don’t recall – as I look back, she was of a generation that preceded the Ms. prefix). The main reason I remember her name is that she also taught my brother and sisters when they were in kindergarten.

Regardless, I have been having flashbacks of late to learning how to write in kindergarten – more precisely, how to print.

When we learned how to print the number 5, it was taught to us in two distinct strokes: down from the upper left, then make the incomplete circle to the right, then, after reaching the appropriate point, we were to lift up our pencils, return them to the top and complete the top bar by drawing the line to the right.

I quickly realized, because I have an above average IQ, that as long as I was careful in printing my five, I could do it in one stroke of the pencil and nobody would ever be the wiser.

This being kindergarten we had to practice our printing – entire rows of carefully printed 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and so on – all of these on Big Chief tablets (I hope to never have to write on paper of Big Chief tablet quality again—just thinking about the paper sends shivers down my spine).

Select students (read: teacher’s pets) were selected to check our printing—I was not one of the graders—and I remember presenting my paper for proofing to a girl, who looked at my 5s and asked me if I had written them with one stroke or two. (I have no idea how the question was phrased—but it’s how I would phrase such a question today if I were going to ask such a stupid question of somebody.)

Thinking on my feet, I lied.


Presumably the statue of limitations has long since passed.

4 comments to Vignettes from Childhood: 5

  • You’re so going to jail for that lie.

  • MT

    I had problems in sixth grade with “handwriting.” It was one of the worst grades I ever received. What is so weird about it: When we started changing classes — to practice for middle school — my new social studies teacher told me I had wonderful handwriting.

    Go figure.

    FYI: My original sixth grade teacher didn’t like me because I would correct her grammar in class. She told my folks that I was socially retarded and recommended that I dress like the other girls and wear makeup. She was an idiot.

  • koko

    LOL MT. Seriously?? Clothing and makeup?? My sixth grade teacher hated me too. She decided I couldn’t read, so put me in remedial english where the “special” teacher read the book aloud to us and gave us tapes of her reading the book. I played along until I was caught reading a Stephen King book…the “special” teacher was way nicer than the mean regular teacher. All because I refused to read the book Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry and it’s sequel…and because she was mean so I was standing up for myself by being a bad student 🙂

    I’m a one stroke 5. I guess I never knew there was an option for a two stroke 5. I still think handwriting and cursive need to be taught in school. I’m old fashioned.

  • CQ: Crud. At least I will have friends in jail.

    MT – I think some teachers are just assholes and shouldn’t be in the classroom. It helps to have parents that fight for their kids and can push back against stupid decisions. (You need to track down your 6th grade teacher, btw…)

    koko – I remember reading Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry — Nothing about it…. My mom tells me that I was once put in a slower reading group–she argued against it explaining that I was lazy. Mom lost the battle, but ultimately she was right…. Meanwhile, you need to go back to kindergarten to learn how to print your 5s!