The year I turned six was all about learning.
I learned to skate that winter in our backyard. Like any good Canadians, my parents flooded our garden that year and created a skating rink. My mother was a wonderful skater -- she grew up playing hockey with her brothers and dad -- so she wanted us to learn. I learned the basics: how to push ahead and how to fall down when I wanted to stop. That is all I ever learned. Unfortunately, my skating ability more mimicked my father.
Poindexter, Little Sis and Farrah.
That fall was the start of real school, not just sandbox and sing-a-longs. It was the start of real books and reading, real knowledge and exploration. I had a wonderful teacher (Miss Something-or-other) who I was convinced was the oldest and most wise woman ever. She might have been in her 40s, but at the time I was certain she was near death. Except that she had a boyfriend which totally blew my mind because in my head you were either married or never-ever-would-be married.
Walking on a ladder
-- or, escaping our captors by walking over a canyon.
I learned two hard lessons from Miss What's-Her-Face. The first was a lesson I didn't understand until much later. One day in class, we had been sitting in the reading corner and were told to head back to our assigned desks. Myself and my two partners in crime -- Lane and Danny -- decided to crab crawl back to our desks. We thought it would be fun. So, with our arms and legs keeping our backs off the floor, we toddled back to our desks. The teacher was surprisingly upset with us and made us stand up, return to the mat and walk back like normal.
What did I learn from this, you ask? I learned that even if it doesn't hurt anyone, being silly and different in a public situation is not allowed. You are expected to act a certain way and to do otherwise is to disrespect the way society works. It is like Bender says "If he gets up, we'll all get up. It will be anarchy."
The second lesson I learned from Miss That-Lady had to do with how you treat people in the world. In a good way. She taught me that you stick up for people when you need to -- even against someone you love.
I learned to ride a bike that fall. A real bike without wheels like babies use. Dad and I spent what felt like hours (for me in a good way, for him... not likely as much) with him running behind me holding my bike seat, keeping me from falling. Eventually I sped away from him, free of the need to have a steady helping had, and (like I do with everything else) ran smack into a parked truck.
Now please remember that the following is what happened in my mind. There is a distinct possibility this is not how it went in real life. But I was 6. And traumatized The parked truck belonged to my teacher's boyfriend. He came outside and yelled at me for hitting his truck. He yelled about his truck and his paint and how I should not be riding on the sidewalk. My teacher came out and stood near him. She told him that I was learning to ride my bike and that I had not done any damage. She touched my shoulder and said she had seen how well I had ridden. She said she was proud of how well I did. Then she took her boyfriend back into the house and I went back home. I loved her even more for that.
That winter I learned the final hard lesson of the year. My youngest sister, Lyn was born in December. She was small and cute and we all liked her. And then she ruined Christmas. I still haven't quite forgiven her.
Me holding Lyn. In my baby blanket.
See what a good sister I was?
Lyn was a baby and, being a baby, was overly needy. She required a lot of attention and regular feedings and caused my parents to lose a lot of sleep. This made them forgetful. In fact, my parents were so tired that on Christmas Eve, they forgot to be Santa -- thus ruining my childhood forever.
Christmas morning, my brother and I dragged Ky down the stairs toward the Christmas tree. For the last 5 years, Santa had left stockings full of treats and candy and gifts and good things. We were pumped. We rounded the corner into the living room and stopped dead. There was nothing. Santa had not brought us stockings. He had not brought us candy. He had not brought us gifts. Obviously, we were on the Naughty List. (I blame Graeme for that.)
We went up to my parents' room and burst through the door all of us in tears. We told them the news -- Santa didn't love us. Then they told us the news -- it wasn't that Santa didn't love us, they didn't love us. They explained that Santa was not real and we had been duped. They then got all our gifts and candy out of the hiding place and spent the rest of the day trying to convince us we were loved.
I didn't buy it.