“So how is Davy doing in Kindergarten?” My mother was attending her first parent-teacher conference with Virginia Kessler. I remember her as a happy teacher with a brunette beehive and an ever-present smile. And how did Mrs. Kessler perceive me?
“Well, David has been doing extended 20-minute performances in Show and Tell.” My mom was concerned. She asked if this was unfairly taking time away from the other children. Mrs. Kessler smiled, “Oh no, they all LOVE it!”
I have a faint memory of bringing in metal trucks and puppets and acting out stories with them. Heck, I even pecked a few girls on the nose with my Roadrunner puppet. Meep meep!
I was rewarded at an early age for being an entertainer. And my teacher did nothing to stop it. She embraced who I was.
First grade was a different story. My mom recalls that I came home after the first day with a crushed spirit. She went to meet with the serious, silver-haired Mrs. Robinson and asked how I was doing. She replied, “David must have gotten WAY too much free reign in Kindergarten. He has a hard time being quiet during nap time.”
Who remembers this forced “nap time” in elementary school? We had to lie down on folding mats and be quiet for a full 20 minutes. In retrospect, I can see why the teachers needed this time to rest… but what’s the benefit to a bunch of hyperactive 6 year olds? Better to let them outside for an extra recess to burn off the energy.
I saw naptime as an opportunity to talk to my friends and entertain them. Mrs. Robinson saw it as an opportunity to teach me discipline, and gave me stern warnings. “This is not the time to be acting up. Be quiet and act your age!”
“Um… hello. I’m six.”
Fortunately my mom continued to support my outgoing personality throughout my childhood, but I learned that not everyone is going to embrace it… and that there is a time and place for everything.
So here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson AND Mrs. Kessler. You are both still with me. I try to lie down and be quiet in situations where someone else is running the show, but more and more I’m letting the real David rise to the surface. My personal mission is to inspire and entertain as many people as possible, and make their lives better in some way.
If you ever feel like the real you is being suppressed in school or at work, I encourage you to find an outlet to express who you really are. Your best friends are the ones who embrace who you are and love it, right?
You don’t have to act your age if you disagree with the script. Be you.