The Need to Nap
I used to think that my elementary school teachers were just trying to get a break. “That’s why they make us take naps.” I told all of the other kids.
My sister Chris had told me that when I got to go to school like my older siblings, I would get to learn all of the time. She knew that I loved to learn and had been looking forward to going out each day to this place called school like my brothers and sisters did. I would be able to get my education and I would get to read big books.
My first day of school was a disaster; at least that’s what I thought. I went to the kindergarten section of the building and walked in with the hopes of seeing lots of kids with lots of big books. To my horror everyone was playing. There were toys strewn about and kids were running from one play station (the area not the electronic device) to another. The teacher welcomed me in and told me to join my classmates. I looked at these little baby kids and wondered how they could be called anything but babies.
I walked over to a station where there were books but noticed that they were the thin picture kind like I’d had for as long as I remembered. I wanted books with nothing but words and school was the place where I was supposed to find them.
“Maybe this is just a warm-up.” I thought, we’ll play for a moment and then we have to study hard like my brother Brent said I would do.
After what seemed like forever to my little mind, the teacher told us to go to the cots; it was nap time. What travesty of justice was this? I had to take naps at home; surely I’d be able to stay up like a grown kid in school. I tried to close my eyes but I couldn’t and I began to cry, silently at first but then the cry turned into the one kids do when they can’t stop themselves. You know that cry where a kid wails and wails, takes a huge silent breath and then cries some more. The teacher came over to me and asked what was wrong.
“I’m not learning nothing---anything,” I bellowed. She looked confused so I told her that my sister Chris said that when I came to school, I would learn like the big kids and I would get big books and I would have homework and I…” I went on like this for some time. The teacher’s look turned to a smile and she said, “Come with me.”
Her assistant stood watch over the baby kids and I went marching with my teacher to the principles’ office. It was the only time in my entire school career that my behavior landed me there. The teacher told the principle, a stern looking woman named Mrs. Moses that I didn’t like school. I was about to interrupt when Mrs. Moses asked me why. I told her that I wanted to like school but the little baby kids were playing and I wanted to learn. I told her that they had to take naps and that naps were for babies.
Up until this point Mrs. Moses’ look told me that she was, as my mother would say, “not to be played with.” After I told her that I was there to learn she broke into a huge grin. She asked me if I could spell my name and I said yes. She waited for me to do it and I waited for her to hand me paper and pencil. When she didn’t, I took out my own and began to write my name. Her smile grew wider and she asked if I knew my address and so I wrote that too.
Mrs. Moses was impressed. My birthday was not until November and I was not quite 5 years old. This was back in the day when they would let you get into school a few months early if you showed the capacity for it. I had no idea what capacity meant, but I was ready.
Mrs. Moses administered a small test and when I was done she looked it over and told me that I was going to big kid school. My heart was full of joy as she took my hand and guided me down the hall away from the baby kids and over to the big ones. I was introduced to a class of children sitting at desks like the ones my big brother Kevin had described. There on the second row was my cousin Robin. She smiled at first and then asked what I was doing there? I told her that I didn’t want to play; I wanted to come to school.
It’s still a joke in my family that I got kicked out of kindergarten because I don’t play.
I finished school early and graduated with the older kids but I have learned to do two things that I wouldn’t then; play and take naps.
The older I get, the more I know I need them and as it turns out; they are just what the brain needs to make learning easier.
It seems like that lady in the kindergarten class knew something after all. I got to learn and read the big kid books and now I get to write them too. But I can only be effective when I play and take naps.
Today, try all three, read, rest and play.
Be well, be you, be a big kid
Bertice Berry, PhD.