Not again. I roll my eyes. The kids near me giggle. But I do as I'm told.
There is a circle painted on the floor in the middle of the kindergarten classroom, just big enough for one person to sit inside. Twenty-four child-sized desks and one teacher-sized desk are arranged in a wider circle around it.
I sit down with a nonchalant smile which hides a mixture of emotions: embarrassment, resentment, resignation. I had looked forward to starting kindergarten. I wasn't afraid one bit, like some of these kids who cried on the first day. I couldn't wait to learn to read and make crafts and play with the other kids!
Nobody told me I wouldn't be allowed to talk to them.
I can stop talking, I think, sitting there alone where everyone can see me. When my sister lets me into her bedroom, we lie side-by-side on her bed while she reads to me, and I don't even move, let alone talk, hoping she'll never stop. She read me Maggi Muggins and Half-Magic and we are half way through the Narnia series. When there's something interesting to listen to, I can don't talk.
But why would anyone play alone at her desk, when there are all these kids to play with? It's just dumb!
"You can get out now," the teacher tells me. "Find something quiet to do at your desk."
I look around. I spend so much time in the circle, I'm not really sure if I have a desk. But there's an empty one over there, so I guess it's mine. Now what to do?
I'm not sure what you're supposed to do in kindergarten if you're not sitting in the circle, either, so I go to the nearest kid's desk. Sherry's doing a puzzle. I watch a minute, and suggest where a piece should go. She smiles and puts it there. I move to the next desk, where Bobby is making a block house. We talk about it as he works, then I go to the next desk, where Debbie is circling all the red things in one picture, and all the blue things in another. This looks interesting, if a little too easy. I ask where she got the paper.
"Teacher handed it out."
I nod and move on. Maybe something more interesting was handed too, while I was in the circle. At the next desk, Brenda is doing a page of coloring. She tells me it's all pictures of things that start with "S". I check the paper and she's right. We talk about that; I suggest a few "s" words not on the paper. I ask her if there's a "J" paper. My name starts with "J" I tell her.
I'm about to move on and see what the other options are - I like to know all my options before I decide - when the teacher calls out: "Janie! Talking! Sit in the circle."