Monday, April 12, 2010

Cleaning Out File Cabinets Part II: A Vingette of Five

A Vignette of Five
by Ethelouise Carpenter

He was five, and in kindergarten. The first time he was told his boots were on the wrong feet, he said, "No, these are mine" and the next time, "Well, it doesn't matter. I know where I'm going."

As the weeks went on, we learned that he had a copper spaniel dog, he slept in a four-holster bed and he lived (in this university community) next door to merry housing.

He had a hole in his boots that sucked up water, and he objected to walking to school on lumpy sidewalks. He had a new baby sister who leaked and who had a bath when there wasn't any dirt on her.

In school he complained about a child who was acting too deteriorating, and one day he announced he had had a messtressing accident.

At the workbench he ground wood and made Swiss cheese. He didn't like pineapple juice because it kinda bit him. He said he loved to eat celery-he could hear the noise inside his head. He couldn't play with guinea pigs because they were bad for his energies. He made a very mykannic thing of wood and wire and touched dry cell wires to the globe to make the world turn.

He squeezed shoots of water from a plastic soap container, discovering he could do it to the rhythm of Yankee Doodle. He made a mousetrap and a suit of knight armor. He bottled milkweed seeds so he could see them loose without losing them. He raced two worms across a board and blew noises out of mailing tubes. He took off his shoes because he liked the rug feeling through his socks. He wore a man-shirt and necktie that he invariably wound up in the workbench vise.

His smock was loaded with paint, his zipper was halfway up, his long belt gathered in too-large corduroy pants. He was a loud-voiced, door-slamming laugher who came to school early so he could get some things done before he got too busy. He wanted to go outside when it rained because that's when you see the best things.

He moved to another town that summer, and the next year he failed first grade. The school evidently was not ready for him.

I've had this in a folder for 20 years, I was glad to be reminded of it and glad I didn't have to retype it because I found it online.


Sarah B. said...

Thank you for posting this. I wish more of us (parents, teachers, people) would take the time to really look at kids, all kids. Children like the one you describe stand out, but all kids have some of this in them and sometimes that helps me get through the day.

Holly Jahangiri said...

How interesting. The author of that essay was also my kindergarten teacher, but that doesn't seem like it was written by the woman I remember.

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Arthur said...

Great article, although i'm used to it from you by now :)

Arthur @

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