the little red schoolhouse on cuba hill road was the place i went to kindergarten. built in 1903 it was a place of important early learnings – the stuff you learn at five and six – things this back-in-the-day first teacher, who you fall desperately in love with, would impart to you through kind, objective, steady lessons. it wasn’t that my sweet momma or poppo weren’t teaching me kindergarten-level-rules, but learning them in a place where i was surrounded by other children and could practice them immediately in-real-life i would guess had more impact. lasting lessons are often those that come through experience, through feeling and doing rather than simply hearing.
share your toys. take your turn. say please and thank you. wash your hands. do your own work. hold the door for others. keep your hands to yourself. be kind. help others. listen when others speak. be respectful of your elders. follow the rules.
i don’t specifically remember days in kindergarten but i know that i have always been a rule-follower in school and would not imperil another’s playground time by not paying attention, by disobeying, by being impervious to an adult’s directions for work that needed to be done or instructions for safe practices. i would not have ignored the be-absolutely-quiet rule during fire or duck-and-cover drills. i would not have continued talking or wreaking havoc were my teacher – or any other teacher, for that matter – to have asked for silence.
the rules seemed simple at five. we were each individually and as a group asked to follow them. those easy rules were designed to preclude chaos and our freedom to learn and have fun was never sacrificed in the process of following them. the consequences of disregarding them seemed dire – staying in during playtime. one child’s misbehavior often led to the whole class missing playground. to be THAT child was not a sought-after title. instead, we would work together – in our five-year-old beehive fashion – to clean up the classroom and desks and chairs so that we were all ready – together – to go play.
it’s the way i feel about masks. it hasn’t been recommended to us by medical and science professionals to wear masks as a lark. this recommendation comes with passionate imploring. it is a simple rule. if this, then that. conditional. if we wear masks, we will dramatically lower the transmission of this global pandemic raging through our country. it is a proven fact and other countries have shown their adherence to mask-wearing has flattened the curve of the disease. pretty simple, yes. a mask.
instead, there are those people who flagrantly ignore this simple if-this-then-that. we see them everywhere. it’s breathtaking. and their display of arrogant individualism at a time of an intense need to care-for-community means one thing: we will not get to go out to play.