Back to my K-Days
Today started out as one of the lowest points in my life and slowly turned into an astounding revelation. As I flipped through the TV stations, it seemed as though every channel was ironically taunting me and reminding me how shitty my life was.
“Wilmington City Financial. Helping you stay out of debt.”
“After the break, we will share 10 ways to help you establish job security.”
“The paternity test results are in—- you ARE the father.”
Last week, I was nonchalantly living life as a mildly successful kindergarten teacher, living in a shabby but decent apartment with my girlfriend and our four-year-old son, Sean. This week, on Monday, I filed for bankruptcy. On Tuesday the school board decided a bankrupt teacher is not a good role model for his students, so they fired me. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not the ideal role model for kindergarten students (I bring Irish Coffee to school every morning except I leave out the coffee). I mean, I guess I had it coming, but did the board really have to beat me when I was down? I think they were just looking for an excuse.
On Wednesday, my girlfriend Samantha told me she was pregnant with our second child. She said she could have dealt with me being broke, but not broke and jobless. She left me that afternoon and moved her fat, pregnant ass to San Diego to live with her mom and she took Sean with her. And now here I am, left alone, in Phoenix without a hope in the world. Earlier tonight, I was slouched in my withered futon smothered by a cloud of heavy cigarette smoke; unable to escape the overpowering aroma of Jack Daniels evaporating from my epidermis. I guess you could consider me a raging alcoholic by nature but I had never used alcohol to wallow deeper into depression, until tonight.
I was still flipping through the channels when I came across an infomercial that endorsed prescription medication intended to aid children in staying focused through their first years of education. I thought briefly to myself (with the few operational brain cells I had at time), and then proceeded to belligerently lecture the doctor on the television screen.
“Why are you fucking doctors worrying about medication for children that young? Kindergarten is an utter fucking waste of time and is in no way valuable to these children’s lives. No kindergarten teacher gives lessons on coping with real pain and loss. And I’m not talking about when another little boy steals your favorite color crayon or when Shelly, your pet turtle, dies. I mean serious, gut wrenching, punch-a-wall-stab-a-pillow-can’t-eat-can’t-fuck-on-the-verge-of-homicide-kind of pain. Strife in kindergarten in nothing compared to real life. Playing wiffle ball is not the same as playing in the major leagues. You don’t get handed a fat, plastic, hollow bat to hit a ball the size of a grapefruit. Life throws you non-stop fucking curveballs and you got to learn how and when to react. Nowhere in the K-Days curriculum (“kindergarten” became too hard to say in my drunken state and K-Days seemed more catchy at the time), do they teach you about the heart racing, ecstatic adrenaline rush you get when you’re hammered or fucking some sluttish broad you haven’t officially met yet. And if you did learn that during your K-Days, you need therapy. So, Doctor, you learn everything you need to know in kindergarten, eh? Blow me!”
“You’re damn right, Adam,” I said as I supported my own argument in that one-on-one debate with the TV doctor. After getting really worked up, I sat down and attempted to pour myself another drink. The Jack Daniels overflowed the glass and spilled onto the floor giving my brand new leather wallet a liquor bath. I stumbled over my eight or nine belly rolls to retrieve it but paused when I noticed the picture of my son Sean, staring back at me. I don’t want to say he was a mistake, but rather he was unexpected. My bitch of an ex-girlfriend, Samantha, decided to keep the baby when she knew damn well neither of us could afford one. I’m pretty convinced that Sean hates me. He never looks me in the eye, and seems to ignore everything I say. I’m a horrible role model for my students and I literally hate them, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able relate to my own son. I want to be a good dad, but I suck at it. I have never actually had a heart-to-heart, father-son moment with Sean, but I thought I should practice talking to him in case I ever get the chance.
“My son—- I thought you should know that your mother is the fucking devil and I wish nothing but death upon her,” I muttered to the two-dimensional image of my son. “She pisses me off on so many levels. Something as complex as ‘losing’ her birth control without telling me and something as simple as complaining about my outfit every time we go out. It was the same bullshit every time. ‘Adam, you’re so stupid. Everyone knows brown and black don’t go together.’ Something as moronic as that would start an argument. ‘Well Sam, I say they do go together. You know why? Because they are fucking earth tones! Look around; animals get away with it all the time. Leave me the fuck alone and go shove your fashion police badge in the face of a grizzly bear and tell him he doesn’t match.’” I slid the picture back in my wallet and let it air dry on the coffee table. “Good talk, son.”
I glanced over at the TV and noticed that damn infomercial was airing again. Oddly enough, instead of building up for round two of Hurricane Adam, I started to reminisce about the first love of my life: Jasmine. She was my kindergarten reading partner. We first eloped during our combined reading of the children’s book, ‘The Banana in my Hammock.’ It was our favorite pop-up book. We eventually reached the phase of sharing candy and toys and discussing our favorite Reading Rainbow episodes.
I woke up from my spaced-out day dream, and thought to myself, “Why couldn’t my relationship with Samantha have been more like my relationship with Jasmine? Jasmine was so easy-going and fun to be around. If she had a problem with me, well—- she’d usually cry. I mean, yeah, she wore her emotions on her sleeve, but at least she didn’t bottle them up and force me to play the, ‘guess why she’s mad,’ game. She didn’t give a fuck what my clothes looked like. I could come to school dressed like an acid-tripping jack-in-the-box, and she still wanted to be seen in public with me. I remember she loved to swing with me on the child safety swings that looked like big, brown, plastic diapers with chains. At the same time, she also gave me some space when I needed time with the boys to discuss this week’s adventures of Scooby Do and his Mystery Funhouse. She never came off as needy or clingy. She didn’t just take my candy; she voluntarily gave me some of hers in return. We would end up with the same amount we started with, but who cares? It was a give and take relationship.
One of our keys to success was that sex was never involved to fuck up everything. In the K-Days, you don’t care about sex! Adults are so damn quick to roll in the hay, that they don’t take the time to get to know one another. Jasmine turned me on; turned me on in a way that allowed me to enjoy life to the fullest, and enjoy her company without having to worry about making babies. That’s real love.
My thought process did not stop with relationships. I poured myself another Jack on the rocks, lit another cigarette and started to compare all of my life problems to K-Day experiences. For starters, bankruptcy was never an issue. We didn’t use money back then; we traded. Adults are so concerned with monthly budgets, identity theft, insurance claims—- It’s all bullshit. Whether it was my apple for your orange, my colored pencil for your magic marker or my glue stick for your cheese stick, everyone always had something to offer. We developed an economy without the use of currency, and it thrived.
A lot of adults would not stress out as much at work if their CEOs would introduce “nap time,” into their daily routines. I know that would have helped me out. Is it really that hard to allow the teachers to take naps during the day? We constantly have sick kids who cough and yak all day long spreading their filthy fucking germs. We teachers need to rebuild our immune systems, and naps would do the trick. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t even be a teacher if I lived the K-Day way. I remember telling my teacher what I want to be when I grow up. There’s no way I turned to my teacher and said, “I want to be a teacher just like you. Please show me the way.” Hell no. I’m pretty sure that half my life, I wanted to be Batman. The problem is, I took the easy path and became a teacher instead of following my dreams; my true passion.
By this time, on any other drunken night, I would be spooning my toilet. On this particular night, however, I am in a good mood for the first time in a while. I get up and start to make a night cap for myself before I pass out. The room’s smoky atmosphere starts to drift away and I happily high-step my way through the elaborate maze of crumpled quizzes that I was supposed to have graded a week ago. As strange as this method is, I am finally starting to make sense out of my predicaments. I feel like I could actually gain something from all those self-guided conversations. Maybe I am just really fucking lonely and I need to get a dog. Or maybe it could be that deep down inside I am actually a raging pedophile who needs to stay the fuck away from playgrounds. Or maybe I’m teaching myself that life isn’t always going to bring you to a crossroad. Sometimes you have to play the hand you are dealt, and be thankful when you live to play another round. Even though I’ve come to the conclusion that you do learn a lot from your K-days, what they don’t teach you is that hard times and distress tend to build your character. Even when you fuck up in life, you need to show that you have the strength to learn and correct your mistakes and the audacity to redeem yourself. This would likely prove that you are not a fuck up, but rather a normal human being.
A couple months ago, I overheard Sean say that when he grows up, he wants to be a fire fighter. Well, damn it; I don’t want my son to follow his father’s footsteps and take the easy road. I want to show him that I care about his future and well-being. Even though he is several hours away, I want to become a better role model for him. Tomorrow morning, I am going to send out a care package to his house with a note that says, “Hey Buddy, this package is for my little fire fighter. I hope you get some good use out of it. Also, I threw in a memento from my childhood that helped me understand love. Maybe it will help you the same way it helped me. Love you, Dad.” Inside the package will be a box of matches, a bottle of kerosene and my original copy of ‘The Banana in my Hammock.’
A creative fiction piece about a self-pitying, former kindergarten teacher who wallows in bitterness as he compares his life as an adult to his life in kindergarten. [R-rated material]