Playing School > Actual School

As the youngest of three girls, I often leached on to whatever my sisters were doing, saying or playing. I am sure this got annoying at times and despite their attempts to ostracize me (they coined themselves “The Bigs”… a nickname that clearly didn’t involve their baby sister), I managed to weasel myself into a few games where three participants were absolutely necessary. The most notable of these games was “School.”

Playing School was simple enough. One person was the teacher and the other two were the students. The teacher was always my oldest sister, Katie. Meghan and I were always her obedient pupils… a trend that carried over to all aspects of our lives as her minions. In order to play School, Katie would demand her privacy while setting up the schoolroom in the unfinished playroom area of our basement. Meghan and I would wait patiently in the living room as Katie toiled away with lesson plans and handwritten worksheets.  We would play with My Little Ponies, hop from pillow to pillow avoiding “Hot Lava” stretches of carpet, or just sit on the sectional and pick our noses until Katie opened the door.

Our schoolroom was a wonderful place. Thin black carpet covered the unfinished, cold, cement floor and the unpainted cement walls were covered in chalk drawings and schoolgirl declarations of love. (So-And-So hearts Whats-His-Face! Me + Boy-In-The-Other-Class = LOVE 4EVER!) There was a just-like-the-cartoons, green chalkboard and yellow chalk and a colorful, pull-down map that still featured Thailand as Siam. An old computer cabinet served as the teacher’s desk stuffed with old textbooks we scrounged up from garage sales and recycling day at our grade school. As perpetual students, Meg and I saddled up to real, laminated wood, hinged school desks that spilled everything on to the floor when you tried to access a pencil stored inside. It was perfect.

What made playing school so much better than actually GOING to school? It was just us three for the most part and Katie usually got sick of playing ten minutes after she allowed Meghan and me into the schoolroom. (But not after sending one of us to stand with our nose pressed up against a thick, chalk dot on the wall—a punishment dreamed up by kids who have never known a switch or a smack.) Do little boys play school, or is it just the girls that accidentally call their teacher “Mom” every once in a while?

When it came to painting the desk I picked up a few weeks ago, I originally planned to paint it something crisp and fresh or bold and dramatic, not whimsical and girlie. I walked into Home Depot determined to pick a color that fell into one of those categories, but walked out with a color called “Ballet Slipper”… a color reminiscent of the paint that was smeared across my bedroom walls during my years playing School.

Ballet Slipper

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4 Responses to “Playing School > Actual School”

  1. Libby, I found your blog through facebook and it’s really great! You’re a really talented writer. And I had to comment on this one because I totally remember playing school in the unfinished room in your basement, as well as jumping on pillows trying to avoid lava. Oh, the good old days!

  2. Wasn’t Katie’s teacher-name “Mrs. Wigglebutt” or something equally awful?

    Can’t wait to see the finished desk!

  3. Rachel! It is so good to hear from you… I have been reading your blog to vicariously live through your European adventure. Those were the days weren’t they? Come back to Kansas City soon and you, me and Natalie can work up a rousing game of Hot Lava. Eh?

    And Sissy… We did name Katie some rather annoying names during that game, though if I can remember correctly she always called herself Mrs. [Brad] Pitt or something equally obnoxious. Lose, Lose.

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