Gold Star Day

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Photo: Molly

The day beets were served at nursery school I finally earned my first gold star.

At the age of four, I’d begged to go to Grasshopper Green nursery school. Yes, I actually do have memories from when I was four. My parents discussed my petition in the front seat of the car. They weighed the cost against the idea that perhaps, being (at that time) an only child,Ā  I perhaps needed more socialization.

I couldn’t have articulated my passion for the project, but it wasn’t the kids I was interested in — it was simply the name of the school that attracted me. Grasshopper Green. It sounded fun. I doubt if I even knew what a grasshopper was.

So they enrolled me in Grasshopper Green nursery school. Even though I adored the finger painting, in other ways it turned out to be quite a disappointment. For one thing, every day the children went home with a report card, and if they did really “well,” their card had a gold star. You can bet I wanted one of those gold stars! (How does a child of four become such a people pleaser already?) But I never understood what the magical combination of things were that I had to do to get one.

I’m sure my parents, who were within a couple of years of becoming hippies, were less than supportive of the gold star method of potty training, and didn’t encourage it by explaining to me. It turned out you got stars if you pooped at school and peed in the potty and that sort of thing. “Facist social engineering,” I think I remember my mother muttering, although I may have that mixed up with a different, later, school-related comment.

One day beets were served at nursery school. I just couldn’t believe how beautiful they were. Oh! MY GOD! The color. I was so excited! Anything that color was going to be excellent, I just knew it!

Well, it wasn’t. The beets tasted a LOT like dirt. Very disappointing. But the color! They must be good, and probably I just had it wrong on the taste bud front. They tasted like dirt, but not like very bad dirt! So I ate them all up. None of the other kids would eat the dirt-flavored beets, so at last I was awarded the gold star.

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