Every once in a while, I like to pull out the giant, overstuffed container that holds all of my school papers from elementary to high school. I think of it as taking a journey back to my childhood – one writing assignment or incomprehensive doodle at a time.
Sifting through the stuff brings up all sorts of feelings for me. Nostalgia over the drawings of horses and dolphins. Pride over the honor roll certificates. Amusement over the childish handwriting and nonsensical sentences.
…And utter confusion about the thoughts I held as a kid.
My elementary school had its own little magazine/booklet that came out a few times a year. They listed helpful information for parents, advertised upcoming school events, and included little brags and cute stories about the students.
The magazine had a paw print on the cover, and also happened to be called Paw Prints. Clever stuff.
Not long ago, I picked up one of the Paw Prints from my first year of elementary school and started thumbing through it, delighted to discover that the kindergarteners that year had been asked what they’d do if they were president. I grinned and settled in on the sofa, happy to begin what I assumed would be a fun and interesting read.
I wasn’t expecting to be completely dumbfounded.
Most of the kids’ responses fell in one of two camps: some (including my best friend) expressed sweet desires to help the less fortunate or make the world a safer place. Others got a little dictator-y and described plans for world domination.
It was a very cute microcosm of modern politics:
And which category did my response fall in, you ask?
Well, neither. My answer deserves a category of its very own. Because it’s just THAT strange.
I have so many questions for six-year-old me about that statement. Why did I think there was more than one President of the United States? Did I picture a herd of presidents all working together toward one common goal, or did we all have different tasks? Why did I assume that none of us would know each other’s names?
And why, at 6-years-old, was I thinking about nameplates?!
I find it fascinating that while my classmates were worried about poverty and drugs at the tender age of six, I was preoccupied by pieces of wood with names engraved on them. Serious stuff right there.
Perhaps my answer for my hypothetical presidency was based on a feeling of sympathy for people who have trouble learning names. Maybe I imagined that one of the presidents (because apparently that’s plural) might be new to the job, and feeling a little unsure of himself. Maybe he’d be running down the hallway of the White House with urgent information for me, and suddenly realize that he couldn’t remember my name. He’d pause outside my doorway, feeling insecure and upset with himself. Finally, he’d work up the nerve to open my door, only to discover that my name was prominently displayed on my desk for all to see.
Crisis averted, new guy.
Although I hope that the reasoning for my answer was compassionate, I’m guessing that the truth is, some twerp probably called me by the wrong name right before I was asked the question, and it really pissed me off.
I’ll probably never know what I was thinking when I gave that answer. Either way, I’m inclined to blame my parents for this one. Clearly, this would have been a good life lesson to impart early on.
- “This is how you use a fork.”
- “This is how you tie your shoes.”
- “By the way, there’s only ONE president. And he probably already has a nameplate.”