James was to head off to her first year of real school. Kindergarten and Play School were more just recess in comparison to REAL school. To James' understanding anyways. Here, in REAL school, she would learn the skills she needed to live in life. Every grade would give her more and more useful skills to make her as smart as her dad. She did not think she could be as tough as her mom. I mean--there are demons in hell, that are jealous of her ability to be scary.
James did recently learn that if you have a choice as to which parent to smack your bottom, never say, "Mom, because she does not hit as hard as dad."
As if what you are doing has earned a smacked bottom, usually the parents are irritated enough that that is the exact wrong thing to say.
Perhaps a bit of background at this point. James was already starting to develop into a problem child. Mostly in stealing sweets and delights from the cupboards. She also would sneak out of bed, and stay up most of the night. Mom and Dad had bought a huge library of child psychology books. She was generally able to easily out smart all of them--and invariably have the attempts to use them, back fire and not function. Which lead to the much more simple, and effective response of giving her a smacked bottom.
Which, it was effective, in that her new goals were: to not get caught. Either by having somebody else take the blame, or not leaving the evidence in an easy to find spot. She never did figure out how to not do either of those.
It was the first day of Grade 1. REAL school started about a month earlier than Kindergarten and Play School.In fact, the day after the Labour Day long weekend. James was walking to school, when she noticed a minivan drive down the street, with a boy in the back window. She waved at him, and continued to walk down the street--and noticed a moving van in front of Alan's old house. Alan and his sister were playmates of James that James really only knew because her mother was friends with their mother. They ended up moving some time ago--James cannot remember where.
So--a boy her age was moving into that house? Well--she should become friends. I mean--it would be easy to visit. It was down the street and on a cul-de-sac. However, James needed to head to school. She got to the school--it was not bad. Most of the people in her kindergarten class were there. Her teacher was Mrs. Kaye. A new teacher in the school.
The desks in the class were arranged in groups. three to four to a group. The groups would change over the year. James was put with Steve and Alan Welsh. Not to be confused with the Alan in the house the new kid moved into. James would also end up next to Bohdan a few times in the year--and Richard Kirsch. Typically the brain farm. Steve, Alan and Bohdan seemed to be so smart--and so knowledgeable on so many subjects. James felt a bit out of place here in comparison. James never thought she was really that different than the average kid.
On the first day, the new kid that moved in showed up. His name was Matt. He was moved to a section with two other students. Away from the rest of the class. Taught a different set of lessons. Given a different set of text books and what not. James ended up introducing herself to him. He was close by--and seemed fairly smart. Another kid in that three desks away from the others was Dustin. This was a kid that was very pervy--and acted weird. However she did not really think that badly of him. Just because he acted weird did not really mean anything to her that would make her think less of him.
Plenty of wonderful people in history have acted weird. Well--that is what James thought. She mostly only had her cartoons to know that all the truly intelligent people acted very oddly. Her first thought was that Matt, Dustin and whatever the third one was, were in the advanced courses. Getting the truly challenging lessons. Judging from Matt's apparent issues with the course ware, and the fact Dustin does not seem to do any work but cause trouble, clearly the best answer is they were getting the truly high end material.
James really did not learn until she actually saw the text book that this was the special needs area of the class. She saw some of Matt's answers to some of the stuff he was only tested on recently--but she had aced months ago--and it was rather wrong. She noted that there was a teacher's note on it that said what was wrong--so she did not want to say anything. At this point she had talked with him, and gotten to be friends, that preaching about something he already knew, was not how to do things.
James did not understand this when she finally found out. It made no sense to her. She had talked with Matt. She had played with Matt. She thought he was easily as smart as she was. She decided to ask him about it. Matt mentioned that the last town they had lived in, there was an issue with the schooling he was taking. He should have been in a different grade (James could not confess to knowing if Matt should have been in Grade 2, or Kindergarten at this point). This stuff was to do catch up, to get him to where the other students were.
Considering Matt was with the rest of them in Grade 2--this must have been the case.
However, in hearing James' story on this. I am a bit alarmed. See James went to school in Alberta. The year of this class would have been 1989/1990. Which would have been around the same time that standardised testing was reinstituted into Alberta. I am not certain if this was the case for where Matt was--but the reason Alberta has standarised testing, is that certain teachers had been teaching that the holocaust had never happened. Planning entirely lessons around raising their students into being good little racists.
I really hope that was not the case for Matt. As such a lesson plan would be a horrid thing to have to be involved in. Considering his older sister Ray seemed to be pretty alright--in fact she was awesome at times, from James' tellings, I doubt this fear of mine was the case. Though, James mentions his other older sister was a complete and total witch. James does not really remember Matt's father--or ever really talking with him.
Alberta has never been that kind of a province to different people. We have had two occurrences where standardised testing was put into place, to stop schools from turning into places of rather large centres of white supremacy. The first time it was stopped, as it was questioned that standardised testing was hurting the curriculum due to the standard arguments against standardised tests. We were the province that many of the high ups in the National Socialist Party in Weihmar Republic and the Third Reich came to learn how to do many of their most horrifying actions. We sterilised the mental ill up until about the late 1960s. Many of our small towns tend to be completely mud hut religious towns. We even have Hutterite colonies which are some of the scariest places to visit. We were one of the last provinces to run the North American Aboriginals schools. That is, a school that abducted native children, and generally had sexual or physical abuse in amongst the many lesson plans of the school.
We were the province that during the second world war, anybody with squinty eyes was sent to. They were allowed two to a small wooden shed. The sheds had to be in somebody's back yard. And the sheds could not be closer than one hundred feet to each other. The sheds were not allowed to have any electronic devices. No radios, no telephones--nothing that could be used to talk to Japan. It did not matter that these people were not necessarily from Japan. There were plenty of Chinese out here as well.
When I call Alberta the Texas of Canada--perhaps I am being mean to Texas. As the people in Texas seem to be a lot more open minded to different people and lot more religiously tolerant in comparison.
So back to the story. James managed to become good friends with Matt over the course of Grade One. James did also make aquaintances with a few students. James did try to show some interest in girls--as well, from what James' parents have said, he was quite the lady's man. Playing more with the girls than the boys.
James did have issues adjusting. Many of the common ideas that the boys did embarrassed her. For example, she became very self conscious anytime she had to pass gas. As they would tease her about it--and she did not get that it was a form of bonding. She thought it meant she had to stop doing it as much--or if she was going to do it, find some acceptable way to do it. One that did not have people holding their noses, and talking about how horrid her hygiene is.
The teacher also had a sign out policy for the bathroom. Only two people could go to the washroom. And when somebody comes back, it was whoever could sign out that got to go out. Now, the issue was, certain students would not sign back in--or some would go out, and not come back for an hour and a half.
Made even more into an issue as James tells me that she is lactose intolerant. Her mom suspected as such--but did not think it was to any bad amount. She would come to school, after eating a bowl of cereal with way too much milk on it. Have a thermos full of milk for the school milk program. Have cheese sandwiches. Then once at home, her mom insisted that supper be eaten while having milk to drink. Having Juice with supper was a no-no. James did not understand that her inability to control her bowels was not her fault. No matter what she tried to do.
James somehow learned that the reason this sign up system was in place was to keep people from going to the bathroom in groups. Going to the bathroom in groups made what otherwise was a rather irritating thing to do at least somewhat bearable. There was somebody to talk to, to help keep you entertained. If there was a screw up you did, you had somebody to catch it for you. Maybe point out a zipper that was down. Collar out of order--or something. And really, the conversation was nothing major. The usual stuff that would occur in class in between the lessons. Guess going to the washroom was meant to be a chore--or some kind of work. Maybe it was not suppose to be enjoyable--so kids would not do it as often?
Eventually a waiting list was added. However, that suffered from similar problems. If you were no vigilant in making certain you got signed up next--somebody else who was on the waiting list would go ahead of you. Either the person coming in would not say a name to alert somebody else, or would choose a name from the people they liked better to announce washroom time. Edits would also be done on the list, to have people appear higher in queue had you been waiting for a long time. Considering people would lie about having waited longer, you had to assume that if they were higher up on the list, they were telling the truth. The system just did not work any other way. It did not work this way either.
The Grade One class was similar to the Kindergarten class--except interruptions would be made to fun time for lessons. Either they were doing lessons--or they were off doing what--I can only guess--amounted to edutainment. There was an area where creative writing was done. Another where the kids could do a pretend store, with pretend money--those were the two areas James went to, and thus remembers. The pretend store--because it also gave her a chance to play house while they were doing store. Usually, she was never allowed to handle the money. She usually was their to handle the children of the people running the store.
Just some background. The store was set up in what was essentially a play pretend house. There was also stuffed animals in the store. Some of the other people there would play as the store owners' children. James was never a child--as none of them would want her as a child. Suggesting she would be put up for adoption, or something. She was never put up as the fatherly role. Usually they had one of the guys that they really liked, and could talk into doing the really crazy stuff do that. James was often in there as a mom, wet nurse or care taker. The others would take the other roles--and if James tried to take them, they would tell on him for disrupting the way they were playing. James would get in trouble for being disruptive.
My understanding of it was that the father roles in this were often the ones where any of the dress up clothes such as dresses and ridiculously bad wigs. Usually doing their worst Miss Doubtfire impressions. Which the girls all seemed to get a rise out of--and laughed. The guys were being silly. Guys did not dress up as girls--no guy out there would REALLY want to do that ever. It was only a joke. A comedy act. Something to make people laugh. Like clowns--but not as creepy or scary.
James usually stood there while hearing that sentiment.
This year had a few times that James just snapped. Usually once or twice. Nothing major. She was put into the hallway to eat her lunch and get lessons. As she needed to learn how to play with the rest of the kids right--and not disrupt lessons and play time so much.
Around the end of winter, start of spring, James found out that due to not washing properly, she got a yeast infection. James would need to be circumsized to properly remove the infection. It had gotten just that bad.
James--after the doctor had demonstrated what would be done on her, one day at class jumped onto her desk, and described, in detail--with her pants around her ankles, what the entire procedure entailed.
This resulted in anatomy being taught in amongst the program that told the kids not to accept candy from strangers. The lesson plan now included the usual stranger danger stuff, that your special square is not to be touched--even by people you know (with the exception of policemen, doctors, medics, nurses and firemen), and the differences between guys and girls. During that lesson, James leaned over to her friends, and mentioned that she kind of wanted to have the female parts instead. He also noted that the "behind" shot, only showed the female one. She kind of wanted to stare at a male butt.
The only thing her friends gave her was disbelieve and telling her, "stop being so weird."
This was the end of grade one. It does not get any easier until her last years of high school