Maybe you wouldn’t have liked me as a kid.

Maybe you would.

I wasn’t particularly popular. I was short, wiry and shy. When I made friends, I stuck by them. There were the neighborhood kids, and there were other kids … kicking through the leaves … kids on their way home from school.

Starting with my first school after kindergarten (totally forgotten), White River School in Indianapolis through Olney Elementary in Maryland, Mom kept a school record book, which I still have. Under some strange journalistic compulsion, I kept it going myself all the way through to high school. Nearly all my class photos are in the book, grade reports and other great stuff I’ll share down the line.

What’s hilarious about this book is how it divides what boys “want to be when they grow up,” and what girls “want to be”—BOYS: Fireman, Policeman, Cowboy, Astronaut, Soldier, Baseball Player; GIRLS: Mother, Nurse, School Teacher, Airline Hostess, Model, Secretary. Each selection had a blank space to fill in something else.

You really weren’t encouraged to fill in those spaces (I attribute it to a late-’60s aberrational freethinking hiccup rather than an enticement for children to actually color outside the lines), hence the checkboxes.

In 1st grade I checked off “Astronaut.” Don’t know what I was thinking, since I’ve always had a terrible fear of heights. Later I checked off these: Second grade, nothing. Third grade, crossed out. Fourth grade, “Naturalist” (written in) then crossed out for “Writer.” This would’ve been when I was at Farquhar Middle School, just before we left Maryland for Minnesota in 1970.

The first entry for Olney Elementary picks up with 2nd grade, where apparently I had two teachers, a “Mrs.” Whitney and a “Miss” Corbin. There were two because I was moved up from 2nd to 3rd grade mid-school year. Can’t recall why, but it was unsettling as I was just getting to know my 2nd grade class when it happened. So the photo below left must be Miss Corbin’s 3rd grade class, where I felt totally out of place. (That’s me on the floor to the right of the class plaque. I threw in another class photo as the inset. Where did Mom get that shirt? Sears’ Star Trek for Boys Collection?)

School has always been tough for me. And not because I don’t like to learn things.

I just think schools (and jobs and consumerism and families and antiquated social institutions) aren’t places to learn things. It’s all about socializing people for the “big world ahead.” The big world built by adults who have expectations leftover from the generation before them, intended to further more bullshit and expectations guaranteed to entice and disappoint young lives.

It all starts here, kids. Your parents want you to get an education, you know, so you don’t turn out like them. Or their parents. Second verse, same as the first.

Nowhere was that more played out than at recess. Kids hit the jungle gyms and swing sets and basketball hoops, separating into cliques they started forming inside the classroom. The tough kids picked on the small ones, the girls giggled about the cute boys, and everything was uncertain. I faced more bully action in later classes, so at this point I’ll just say that schools are fucking veritable petri dishes for bully dynamics.

But one sweet memory from this time remains: the honeysuckle bushes just beyond the playground.

I’d forgotten about honeysuckle, which, as far as I know, doesn’t grow in Minnesota. Couldn’t recall what it tasted like, what it looked like, or even what it is.

Boys who made friends with girls, or girls who made friends with boys, used to climb down from the jungle gyms to pick the blossoms and taste them.

Yeah, they were like honey.

Tiny globules of honey.

~ by completelyinthedark on November 16, 2010.

4 Responses to “Honeysuckle”

  1. I can’t believe I only discovered you have a blog now. Great post! Great writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    Reposting this chestnut from the beginning of “Completely in the Dark.” All-new two-part post to be published next Friday.


  3. I have a scrapbook page for my son which is not unlike your description. There are several photos of him, dressed or holding a prop, labeled with what he wanted to be; a cowboy, an architect, a race car driver, an astronaut, and the best bit, at the bottom is where he’s dressed for Halloween, and the caption reads, “I’m Batman!”
    He’s almost finished with a very long degree, like information technology systems engineer, or something with those words, lol! There’s indeed a race car driver inside him still…
    Honeysuckle is indeed a treasure, and it grows here in Indy. I, too, can remember pulling the stems off and sucking out the nectar from the blossoms. Something I should teach my smaller children…
    Thanks for the memories!

    Liked by 1 person

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