Mama’s Baby

1955 Mamas baby There I am.  4.   They let me have my picture taken with the real students as long as my two sisters were standing in line anyway.

Our school system didn’t have kindergarten, to my mother’s dismay, because she had to wait until I reached six and a half to drive me to a strange room and abandon me to Mrs. Turpening (later nicknamed Mrs. Turpentine.  I think I accidentally called her that once).  Nice lady.  Wore her hair up in a braided bun.  Played the piano too.  Anyway…..I imagine Mom half dreaded the scene and planned on sitting on one of those teeny chairs at the back of the room for at least 3 months because I was ………… a Mama’s Baby.

If you think my eyes in this picture look shiny it may be because a stranger was separating me from my mother’s side, maybe all of 5 feet, and I was crying.  Who is this kid anyway?  Did you say she wasn’t even in school yet?  We’re losing daylight here.  I think I remember Mom encouraging me to stay seated and please smile, making the “go-sit-stay” signals with her hands.  This was not helping and could have been interpreted as rejection.  Somehow somebody convinced me not to screw my face up bawling and the photographer snapped this. I was more than likely getting my breath between wails. Yes, this is smiling compared to the recent blubbering.  You want grinning?  Find another kid.

Look at that dress, would you?  I should have been on the Lassie series—no doubt, as the kid in the well.  Just remove my mother from the set and I wouldn’t need to be told to cry.

Back to the story.  The Mama’s Baby syndrome lasted until the very first day of first grade.  Up to about age 3, I was scared of Dad until Mom told me I was hurting his feelings at which point I ran up to him because I felt sorry for him.  I was a very sensitive child!  I understood tears.  From then on, I couldn’t get enough of Daddy, but off the homestead, I was still connected to Mom.  Poor Mom.  Nearer to 50 than 40 and the (hopefully) last child was still attached.

I remember one time she was going to the church for something and told me that Grandma Murphy was going to stay with me.  I must have misunderstood when she left to go get her.  Why, in the name of common sense, did she not take me in the car?  I ran for the back of the sofa and hid behind it, terrified, thinking I was all alone in the world forever.  In comes Grandma and the memory ends there.  I thought she was pretty ok.   She did sit me several times both at home and at her house.  Memories are rushing back; I will get to Grandma Murphy in another post.

First grade.  First day.  Mom, anticipating the teeny chair and leg cramps.  She walked me to the door and here came Carolyn Leath running toward me.  “I like your zumper, Zanie!”  I turned to Mom and instructed her she could go home now.  I can only imagine Mom’s lower jaw dragging.  I wonder if she cried when she got home.  She’d better have.

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