Those were the Days
The thing about kindergarten is that the politics is unparallelled.
I was reminded of this yesterday, as I listened to the neighbour’s children playing a game of pirate ships over the fence. It started nicely enough, a sword fight here and there, the occasional walking of the plank, and then the apparently inevitable slow and painful humiliation of the weaker players, who were forced initially to ‘cook and clean’, but eventually to lick mud and sniff dog poo.
While I was somewhat dubious about the authenticity of their re-enactment (perhaps “Pirates of the Caribbean” omitted mud licking and poo sniffing due to time restraints?), I could hardly fault them based on any level of cruelty. I remembered all too well the realities of life as a four year old.
During my earliest school years, Haley S was the bane of my existence. In later years, she might have been known as the class bully, and even later the queen bee, and while in Kindergarten she was simply known as Haley S, she wore her name as a title.
People stopped what they were doing when Haley S walked into the room. They would lay down crayons, remove lego from their noses and cease licking the glue, in order to gaze at her supposed perfection.
Yet, despite the blindness of those around me, I saw the reality of her perfection. I saw the way her golden locks dripped with sadism and her rosy cheeks sucked the life from those nearest her, the way her bright blue eyes assessed the classroom/battleground dividing the weak from the strong, and planning her domination. – I wanted to be her friend more than ANYTHING.
I soon discovered that becoming her friend was less than difficult, but that, as is always the case with such girls, friendship came at a cost. Anyone could be her friend, so long as they played the role assigned to them. Literally.
Every lunch time, Haley S would orchestrate a role playing game, for which everyone was allotted a part, and every lunch time, Haley S assigned herself the role of Princess.
I desperately wanted to be the princess. I dreamt of the power and greatness the role appeared to entail and could barely restrain my jealousy. My resentment was only aggravated by the fact that Haley S consistently assigned me the role of either prince or dog. While I valued the friendship of this god-like child, I rapidly began to question the price.
Eventually, I became friends with my co-sufferer and alternative prince or dog, Amy. Haley S seemed unconcerned which of us played dog and which played prince, so long as the two of us filled one or other of our designated options, and as Amy and I came to discover, neither was a great choice. The dog was essentially restricted from participating in the game except to occasionally make huffing sounds or, when instructed, to roll onto its back. The prince, on the other hand, was effectively Haley S’ slave, ordered to carry her toys, lay out her lunch, and occasionally to feed her (not at all degrading…). As I write this, I’m tempted to applaud her attitude, after all, she clearly had us whipped, but even so many years later, I remain too indignant to grant her any such approval.
Like so many young princesses, however, Haley S did not factor in the risk of rebellion, and, eventually, her most aggrieved followers began to question her authority.
I have to admit, the thought of rebellion had never occurred to me, but Amy was smarter and more ambitious than me, and, on this particular day, Haley S had ordered Amy, as the dog, to lick her shoes. She might as well have told Amy to eat cake, which is why, as I headed off to fulfil Haley S’ latest command, Amy pulled me aside to discuss her plans.
The plot was simple enough, but it took planning, and like all good conspiracies there was a certain amount of risk involved.
“We have to wait until she least expects it,” declared Amy, and since we had the attention spans of the four year olds we were, we waited ten minutes and put the plan into action.
Haley S, we discovered, was sitting cross legged under the big oak tree making a daisy chain, and it was this fairly typical Princess-y past time that was her downfall.
What Haley S had failed to realise was that her position under the big oak tree entailed its own risk. As Amy explained to me, if we angled the oak tree’s rope swing just so and swung from the correct height, Haley S would be in perfect firing range.
I didn’t take much convincing, and so it was that I found myself precariously perched atop a small wall, as Amy pulled me by the waist and carefully aimed me at our designated target.
And then she let go.
The rush of the wind on my face was exhilarating. I felt the world slow down and laughed for the thrill of it, remembering to stick my legs out just in time to kick Haley S right in the head.
Ding dong, the witch is dead.
I’d like to say that, as an adult, I’ve grown ashamed of this particular act, but it’s not something that I regret any more than I did as I sat, grinning, imprisoned in the naughty corner.
Haley S suffered no permanent injury. If anything, she thrived on the attention afforded her by the assault. Her perfection only rose in the eyes of those around her, but I no longer craved her friendship. I was mildly disappointed that I had not received the same excited response as Dorothy on her arrival in Oz, but I was no longer jealous of Haley S and her monopoly over princess-dom. Instead, I came to realise the greater possibilities that awaited me.
Fuck being a princess, I was going to be a Super Villain.