Ms. Baker was my Kindergarten teacher. Never again have I found a more natural, more loving teacher, with the exception of a retired Air Force Colonel I had for a teacher in the 6th grade named Leo John Lee. I loved Ms. Baker, even though we got off to a rough start.
The first time I caught the bus to school, my mom walked me out and I was almost swept off my feet by the gusty Maryland winds. I was a very small child of only 4 years old. It wasn’t hard to lift me off the ground, and I am still convinced that if it hadn’t been for my mom holding my hand, I may have never made it onto the bus! When I remember that day, I have a mental image of Madeline rolling down the street like a tumbleweed, her white hat rolling down the street behind her. The panicked look on my mothers face that day I only saw one other time in my life, and that was when she and I both thought I was going to fall out of a rollercoaster while it did one of its upside down loops when I was around nine. I'm sure my face was worse as I screamed bloody murder.
Ms. Baker knew how to deal with kids in a way only a saint could handle in my eyes. I was still a very active child, even with the dreaded Ritalin that was prescribed to my brother, but given to me. I refused to pay attention in class. Ms. Baker knew that I was the kind of kid that needed special attention. During story time I had the worst time staying still. I would crawl around on the floor to other spots, disrupting other kids that were trying to pay attention.
Finally Ms. Baker got a great idea one day. She strolled over to her desk and pulled out a roll of masking tape, had me stand up from where I was sitting, and put a big tape X on the carpet. She looked at me and told me that was MY spot. During story time, I got to sit there and nobody else did. She made me feel special! I don’t think she had another problem with me during story time. Then again, she did have problems concerning that X. I didn’t want anyone around it or on it, even during playtime! If anyone was on that X and I saw them, I rushed over to tell them that was MY spot and they weren’t allowed to be there unless I said so!
Right before the beginning of school, I had head lice that I had gotten from another kid at the baby sitters. My mother had to cut off all of my long, beautiful hair, leaving me with a haircut that somehow resembled a boy’s. Ms. Baker was almost as blind as a bat without her glasses with built in coke bottle lenses. It was just my luck she wasn’t wearing her glasses on that day of kindergarten orientation.
When I walked in behind my mom and dad, Ms. Baker asked my mom and dad something. She was very soft spoken, so I never heard what the question was. My parents responded to her in the affirmative. They shouldn’t have.
Mom and Dad thought she had asked, “Is she yours” when in fact, she had been waiting for one child in particular. She hadn’t asked, “is she yours”, but rather, “is this George.” Mom and Dad continued chatting with the teacher, not realizing the mistake that had been made. Several minutes went by before she noticed I was still there. Finally she said to me “George, you can go play with the other kids if you would like.”
My nickname was George for years afterward.
Every now and then I still hear it.