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A big lover of all types of media, from Movies to Video Games, Books to Music, Television to Stage.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Dorset Park Years - Part The First

So begins my education.  The post today will deal with what memories I can pull out from my first three - four years of schooling.  As mentioned in the previous post, at some point another person came to live at our house, and I am going to try and keep that separate from things until I can guarantee that my memories have to include him.  I know this occurred when I was about 5, as he was 11 years older than I and we met him when he was about 16 or 17, but somewhere my memory breaks down on this point as the meeting came at a camping experience, and I am unsure as to when I started scouting as well.  Anyway, all will be made clear as I continue writing.

My first days of school were kind of confusing.  I remember being lead to the building by my mother, seeing the jungle gym at the back of the school, and going in a metal door to find bright colours and other kids inside.  I don't remember being abandoned or crying when my mother left, but that could have happened.  I'm actually pulling up memories of this event only as I sit here thinking directly about it.  I remember fingerpainting, and not a whole lot else.  I was only in kindergarten for a couple of days.  I was considered too bright for the class, easily bored, and was then transferred up to a grade one class.  So, at four years of age, I started grade one.  With my birthday being April 28th, I would always turn the proper age for the year I was in just a couple of months before that year ended.  I am not certain any of the other kids knew that about me, and I certainly didn't share the news.

A few days after being transferred to grade one, I was given the role of 'teacher' and was sent back down to the kindergarten class during recess for the purpose of helping those my age do stuff.  I still have absolutely no idea what the school was trying to do, but I was denied recess with all of the people in my class, and I now feel that as a result my possibility of making friends this early was stunted by this decision.  They were playing, I was teaching other kids.  It lead to a lot of confusion for me, and possibly resentment that spilled on to my mother.  No idea.  I do know, however, that I acted out as a result of it, in two specific instances that stand out to me.

Dorset Park was odd in that the kids didn't all play together outside at recess or at lunch before classes resumed.  I assume that it was odd, anyway.  See, one side of the school was meant for the boys to play outside, and the other side of the school was for the girls.  So, basically, unless you were in class you never did anything involving the opposite sex.  We were too young to care, but as a result of this strange division one side of the school was off limits, and so sometime during my first few weeks at school, I went to the washroom right before recess time, and the washroom was on the main floor whereas the classroom for grade one was upstairs.  I came out of the washroom, wandered a bit, and found myself in the 'girl's' stairwell just as the recess bell rang.  I panicked, and went and 'hid' under the stairwell.  It wasn't exactly a good place to hide, as if anyone outside looked in the windows beside the doors to go outside (and they were fairly large windows) they would clearly see me crouched in the corner against the wall (the stairs came down facing away from the doors, thus I was not hidden in the least when viewed from outside).  Since the girls were chatting and unconcerned about anything other than escaping the building, I actually avoided being seen until the very last few were headed out, at which point one girl spotted me and a general clamour revealed my hiding spot.  I hadn't done anything, but was reprimanded - I assume.  Don't recall, but the event itself sticks out in my mind.

The other event is the first in what I like to call 'dream phases.'  There were at least two times as I grew up that I felt that i dreamed something, only to discover that the event actually occurred in reality.  From my viewpoint in the present, I cannot honestly say whether I actually dreamed something and then acted it out, or whether I kind of lost touch with reality as I did something, but either way there are two incidents that really stood out in this manner, and both happened before high school.  This is the first one, and it happened one lunchtime in my grade one class.  My teacher was Mrs. Charleston, and was the one responsible for breaking my ambidextrous ability and forcing me to use my right hand for printing and writing.  My mother was angry at this, and invited her to lunch one day to have it out with her.  I was fairly ignorant at the time, but this is what was going on above my head.  I of course recall it as a nice lunch with my teacher, though not knowing why she was there, but given that my mother was hating her as a result, I figure I must have carried animosity from my mother over to Mrs. Charleston, and so one day I decided to urinate all over the classroom when the room was empty for lunchtime.

Now, I have no real recollection of doing this, but I do remember somehow gaining access to the room one day when it was empty, a big no-no, I remember that it was at the very start of lunchtime, as there was a lot of time that passed before the incident was discovered, and to this day I don't know what it was that made them realize it was me.  Honestly, I'm not even sure it was me, due to this dream-like state I saw it all in.  Either way, it happened and that was that.

Other school memories included running down the hallway into the gym because they wanted to time sprints and stuff and we couldn't go outside for it (I assume it was winter), a bully who was diagnosed with some mental disorder which made him my friend one minute and a violent enemy trying to injure me the next, and many threats of "You're dead at 3:30" which never made me run from the school but which never seemed to materialize as I headed home each afternoon.

Two big events marked my other two years at Dorset Park, one each in grade two and three.  In grade two, we were given these math books, red covers, filled with tons of addition and subtraction problems.  The idea is that we were not to actually write in the books, but were to copy the problem into our little Scarborough Board Of Education white notebooks with the Civic Centre on the cover, and complete the problems there.  This basically turned what could have been a half hour of math homework into an hour and a half of copying, then doing the actual problems.  I hated it, and argued with my teacher and my mother about the stupidity of needing to copy the problems when I could just look at the problem and see the answers.  At some point my mother intervened at the school, and I was given my very own math book in which I just did the damn problems and all was well.  This of course meant i was done way before the other kids, so then I would end up going around and giving aide to the others, showing them where they were adding wrong or not carrying a number over.  To say that as a result teachers and my mother had a higher expectation of me as a result would be stating the obvious.

The other big event needs some major explaining before I can properly describe it, so that will be in Part 2, coming soon to a blogpost near you.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Random Events

I am still trying to ensure that the majority of what I'm putting in these first posts occurred before my first days of school, so while this post may also be a bit disjointed, I assure you that once I get into my years at Dorset Park things will settle down considerably.

I vaguely remember having kids around when I was very young, aged less than five, but I have no idea who they were or what happened to them.  I might be making this up, but I also seem to remember that there was one year when a lot of younger families moved away from the neighbourhood.  Probably word of my mother being there got out somehow.  Anyway, I do know that somewhere discussion began amongst us kids about derogatory slang used for different races, specifically what is commonly known as the 'N' word.  My mother heard me say that once, and then there was a whole discussion about why it was wrong, etc., but while it ensured I would never use it in the context of negativity, I also hadn't done so when she heard me say it, yet she acted as though I had used it as an insult directly at someone.  Just another example of her doing things without any clue as to the truth.  Julia was still around when this happened, I'm certain, and I think she was in on the discussion with the four or five of us talking about words.

I remember going on a train trip once when I was fairly young.  A big train, down at Union Station, not like a GO train, though I had a fondness for them as well.  I think that now, if I could do any job, it would be as a conductor of a train.  When returning back to where we boarded the train (could be Union, could be virtually anywhere else) I saw a short person, and couldn't stop staring, intrigued by the ambiguity of him.  My mother got all embarrassed and tried to apologise, but he understood that it was curiosity and not malice that provoked my interest.  Already, a pattern involving my mother is emerging.

My mother did have a lighter side as well.  It most came through with two characters she 'created' and had me talking to when really young, something I actually plan to do when I have kids though not for the same reasons.  One of the characters was 'moon,' and happened when the moon was full.  She'd say "Look at that," and point out the window of the car (for some reason, this always happened in the car), and I'd see the moon...and then she'd do a voice for the moon and start talking to me.  We had long conversations, depending on where we were going, and I used the moon as a confidante.  I'd tell the moon things that I wouldn't tell my parents.  For example, while I'm not sure of anything I did that was in this vein, my mother told me I'd confess to doing something bad to the moon when I wouldn't tell her a thing.  Same goes for the other character she had me talking to, 'reflection.'  You can probably see where this came from, with her compact mirror.  Just as with moon, I'd tell reflection anything, even though my mother was obviously in the same room when I was speaking.  Don't know where my mind was, just saying stuff even though she was right there.

All kids have a cruel streak.  Mine came out as jabbing people with needles.  One day, about to take my Grandma out for some trip, I was jabbing her with one, and she wouldn't say more than it hurt and I should stop.  Well, my mother stopped it - she took the pin from me and jabbed it into my leg, just as I was doing to my grandmother.  Boy, did I cry.  I don't blame her for doing what she did, but I do question the way she did it.  I'm certain that my understanding of the pain I was causing could not have been described to me without feeling it for myself, but I feel the abruptness of the act, as a form of retribution, was a poor choice of how to handle it.  I've given it a thought over long years, and while the actual pin in the leg I feel was fairly required, a discussion of what was going to happen, why it was happening, and extending the knowledge of that pain to include hurting anyone ever might have been a better way to go about things.  Either way, except for one other pin incident years later, I never did that again.

Other than the cottage, we also have Super-8 film of a Christmas from 1977 and a visit to Santa's Village in Bracebridge from around the same time.  I don't remember the Village visit from more than the movies, but I do remember being blinded by the light from that damn camera on that Christmas morning.  If I'm not mistaken, that was the same Christmas I got my first bicycle, with training wheels.  It was years before I learned to ride a bike without them, but that's a story for another day.  I think, though I could be wrong, that the same Christmas I got the game "Mouse Trap."  That game, along with a Haunted Mansion game from Disney that can only be found rarely on eBay, was my favourite board game I ever owned as a child.  I'd get my father up really early when he was home from the fire department to play board games.  We'd play those two, and "Pay Day" and "Snakes And Ladders."  I'd play with him for hours.  Later on, I'd have one of the "Star Wars" board games, and we'd play that a lot too. 

Unfortunately, I can't say there are many more memories I can include in the sections before going to school.  So much of my past is shaded with a fourth person living at my home that it is now hard for me to separate the time before he was there and the time after he arrived, as this occurred when I was five or six, and my life slowly began a downward slope that technically still hasn't reached the bottom yet.  All I can say for certain is that I was once a very happy person, and sadly I oftentimes feel that it all ended by the time I got to grade one.