Anthropology of Three, Early Learning

What I Learned from Mommy in Kindergarten

8 Comments 27 March 2013

I am so happy to be posting in our Early Learning series again. As we register Baby #1 for kindergarten this spring and prepare to begin “real” school this fall, I have been reflecting on what I, Momma, want for his education. What I, Momma, expect from kindergarten. What I, Momma, hope he carries with him for a lifetime.

This is the story I found waiting to be told.

Red Shoes

Photo by Red Tricycle Photography. Our favorite photographer. Houston, Texas.


Lady Standing 

by Sarah Nalini Joseph


Jenna was my friend in kindergarten.

She wasn’t my best friend. That was David, who was always nice to me.

She wasn’t my popular friend. That was Kelly, who was generally not so nice to me.

Jenna didn’t seem to have friends. The David kind or the Kelly kind. But Jenna and I got along.

We both had dark brown hair. I was the smallest in the class and she was the biggest. Those last two facts seemed to matter to other people.

Kelly called me shrimp. Kelly didn’t talk to Jenna.

Everyone wanted to be Kelly’s friend. I asked Mommy why no one else would want to be Jenna’s friend.

Mommy said she didn’t know, but that if I wanted to be her friend that I should. Everyone needs a friend. It is good to be someone’s friend, Mommy said.

I don’t remember Jenna being at my school after kindergarten.

Thank you and goodbye, my unspoken friend.

This year, sometime between New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I saw a lady standing on the corner of the major highway intersection near my house. At first, I thought she was waiting to cross the frontage road, which people don’t often do right there.

Her presence struck me. She was poised in cleanly pressed blue denim jeans and draped in a slightly oversized black trench coat, with a hint of a red blouse peeking through.

She wore her gray-brown hair pulled back in a bun revealing a profile that reminded me of a former ballerina when she has aged beautifully and people call her so elegant.

As I drove past her in the left turn lane, I saw her small cardboard sign with neatly written words:

And….God Bless You!”

Hello, lady standing on the corner.

Driving my usual route home from Day School pickup, I did not see her the next day or the next.

Maybe a week later, as I approached the intersection, she was standing next to a police car stopped ahead of me in the left turn lane.

Oh no, unspoken friend. I hope everything is okay.

She smiled and spoke to the officer like a gracious First Lady in a State receiving line.

Sweeping her arm gracefully behind her, she pointed to the neighborhood across from mine.

When the police car moved forward, I followed the traffic.

The next day, the lady with her hair pulled back in a bun was standing there again. She was like a princess smiling at the people with her hands cupped and clasped in front of her waist. Only her fingers were folded around ANYTHING WILL HELP.

Slowing to stop for the red light, I rolled down my window and gave her some amount of money that happened to be in my purse. A pitifully small amount.

She smiled and said, “God bless you.”

God bless you.

Months passed and I did not see the lady standing on the corner.

Last Friday, I went to the park with the girls, tucking mozzarella string cheese sticks and a cold water bottle into my purse. We ate cheese sticks and rode the seesaw up, down, up, down, up, down.

One more time down the big slide turned into six. We had to rush to pick up big brother from Day School.

At the highway intersection on our usual way home, I saw a shiny black vinyl purse with tan straps hooked on a bolt at the base of a street lamppost. It was the rectangular flat kind of purse that is more of a bag.

Reminds me of my big bag hanging on a hook inside my cubicle at my first job after graduating from college. When it was important to look professional.

There she was, the lady standing in her familiar pose. Her hair was pulled back, but now with the ends loose in a ponytail.

As I approached the intersection, traffic was moving quickly. With three children in the back seat, I hesitated but kept driving.

Hold on, friend.

I made a left turn where I normally go straight. The children questioned, “Where are we going?”

When I drove back under the highway and turned back onto the frontage road, there were still cars behind my minivan. I slowed down earlier this time.

As she approached my open window, she smiled and I noticed her slightly crooked and chipped teeth. A few tiny scars to the right of her nose.

I handed her the cold water bottle and the few dollars I had. She said, “God bless you, God bless you.” My throat tightened and my eyes stung.

God bless you, friend.

It was nice and not so nice to see her again. I wondered where she goes for those periods of time before ANYTHING WILL HELP again.

The weekend passed. Monday did too. Then, yesterday, the lady was standing there again.

As I rummaged through the coin holder under the dashboard, I saw her glance in the back seat of my minivan. I handed her the three quarters and one dime I found. She said, “God bless you, baby.”

Something in you is me. And maybe something in me is you.

Last night, we picked the last 58 grapefruits from our tree in the backyard. We have been delivering most of the unusually sweet fruits to our friends and neighbors over the past few weeks. This afternoon I brought a bag of them to the lady standing on the corner.

I like the lady standing on the corner. It is good to be someone’s friend.

Thank you, Mommy. For kindergarten. For everything.

Dalai Lama Quote

What did your Mommy teach you in kindergarten? Let’s chat in the comments below.

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Your Comments

8 Comments so far

  1. Lori says:

    A touching article that shows how much kindness lives inside of you.

  2. KB says:

    The world would be a better place with more
    loving, caring people like you in it! You touch my heart
    with your words.

  3. Shine George says:

    Amazing story. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Jostine says:

    Really touching and inspiring…”its good to be someone’s friend” 😉

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