Before my first day of school, I knew nothing about my kindergarten teacher except her name.
Mademoiselle Cockburn was a monster.
She wasn’t a monster in real life. But she was the monster that haunted me every day during that sixth summer of my life. And she got bigger as June turned into July and scarier as July turned into August.
I was entering French Immersion on the very first day of my school career. I knew a couple French words: “Bonjour” & “Au revoir“. That was pretty much it. It was clear to me that I was at a disadvantage. I was going to go from my comfortable home where I could communicate and people could communicate with me to this lions’ den where everyone would be communicating in a foreign language and I would be absolutely, completely, irretrievably lost. I imagined everyone talking around me and to me and I would have no idea what was being said or asked of me. And what would happen if I needed to go to the bathroom? Who would I ask? Would I get in trouble for not asking in French? But I didn’t know French!
Unfortunately, that wasn’t even the half of my fear.
This teacher-thing inhabited my nightmares leading up to the beginning of kindergarten. It was so big that it towered over my imagination. It was bird-like*. It had a giant pecking beak and these disgustingly huge red, floppy wattles on the side of its face and massive, orange webbed talons. To make this rooster-teacher-thing even more terrifying, it was eternally on fire and it never burned.
And this was whom I would be spending every day with during coming year. This was what I imaged my teacher to be.
I was scared silly about starting kindergarten. But the day came and my parents put me in my coat and my boots. They strapped my book-bag around my shoulder and placed a lunch box in my hands. Then, they walked me into my first day of kindergarten.
I don’t really remember what Mlle. Cockburn looked like (isn’t it funny how our minds retain the made up image over the real one?) but I do remember her being sweet and young and very kind. I didn’t find myself surrounded by a new language but instead by a lot of English-speaking kids like me and a teacher who slowly eased us into a new language. There were activity stations and toys and a big circle area where we would sit and read books. And of course, there was a playground outside where we could run and play pretend and find caterpillars and imagine digging a hole to China.
And it really wasn’t scary. Not at all.
Kindergarten taught me a lesson that I am still trying to learn to this day. Too often, I let the fear of the unknown stop me from making the changes that will open up opportunities for me. I let my imagination get away from me and I allow it to create nightmares instead of giving it permission to fulfill my dreams. Whenever I put aside the monsters I imagine and take that step into the unknown, I am always pleasantly surprised by wonderful experiences.
So, who else needs to go back to kindergarten to learn this lesson?
(For the record, I also learned that sometimes I shouldn’t be trusted to choose my own haircut. But that’s another blog post for another day.)
*I obviously write so I don’t have to pay for a therapist. I just gained a bit of an understanding as to where my bird-phobia stems from.
We had a fun kindergarten match game up for you recently. Well, today we announce the winners and the answers. All the bloggers who participated are so grateful to everyone who played and we hope that you met a few new favourite bloggers that you never knew about before.
Congratulations to Amy Pike, the winner of the $300 Amazon gift card, and Renee Schuls-Jacobson and Julie DeVisser, who each won an $80 Amazon gift card!
(Yes, Amy Pike is my sister. But she only had 13 answers right, which means I definitely did not give her the answers. And my job for this whole project was the images. I did not come close to choosing winners.)
And now: Here are the answers!
Make sure you click through to each blog to see how our looks have changed since kindergarten.
Angela of Angela Amman
Angie of Angie Kinghorn
Deborah of Ask Doctor G
Robin of Farewell Stranger
Poppy of Funny or Snot
Leigh Ann of Genie in a Blog
Greta of Gfunkified
Jennifer of Jennifer P. Williams
Tonya of Letters for Lucas
Kiran of Masala Chica
Laura of Mommy Miracles
Natalie of Mommy of a Monster (and Twins)
Brittany of Mommy Words
Jessica of My Time as Mom
Kimberly of Reflections of Now
Tracy of Sellabit Mum
Elaine of The Miss Elaine-ous Life
Sarah of The Sunday Spill
Galit of These Little Waves
Kristin of Two Cannoli
Arnebya of What Now and Why
Kristin of What She Said
Alison of Writing, Wishing
(“Name That Kindergartner” was inspired by the “Name That DIY Blogger” contest, over at My Blessed Life.)