Papa said kindergarten was a waste of time. It was mornings only, ending at noon. When he wasn’t gardening for other people, he and Mama worked together in farm fields and fruit orchards. They couldn’t be worried about finding someone to care for the twins until they got home at dark. No kindergarten for us no matter how many people tried to persuade Papa.
While our childhood neighbors and friends learned the fun way in kindergarten class, we learned from our sister Nadine in play school. We recognized crayon colors. We colored inside the lines. We counted. We read. We were ready for the first grade without kindergarten.
One long, very boring school day, Mrs. Buffington was teaching our first grade class to follow coloring guidelines. She gave each of us a single mimeographed workbook page to color. She read the printed instructions aloud, reminding us to choose the correct colors and to color inside the figure outlines.
Her instructions were redundant to me. I knew how to do all those things and I could read the printed instructions for myself. I didn’t need her help. I followed the directions. Color the chair brown. Okay. Color the girl’s dress blue. Done. Next, color her hair yellow. Yellow? No way! I didn’t want my girl to have yellow hair.
With favorite comic book characters as my guide, I made my own color choice. When Mrs. Buffington returned the papers to take home at the end of the day, a bold red F was printed on the top left of my coloring page with a circle drawn around the girl’s face. I didn’t understand. Everything was colored in the lines. It looked good to me. When I questioned Mrs. Buffington about the grade, she said it was because I didn’t understand colors.
“Do, too!” I protested.
She insisted that I misunderstood the directions because I colored the girl’s hair blue instead of yellow. “Nobody has blue hair,” she said.
I defended my choice of cobalt blue hair to the old fashioned school teacher. I said, “Wonder Woman® does.”