CHiPs motorcyle

When I started kindergarten, my lack of understanding the English language, and my status of only child made my socializing with the other children difficult. It did not help that I was a painfully shy child who was taught early on that the squeaky wheel did not in fact get the proverbial grease, but instead got the very real hand across the face. Lesson taught: keep quiet.

While that made me a teacher's dream, it also made me a teacher's nightmare. If I did not understand, instead of asking for help, I just smiled, kept quiet and faked it until I could figure it out alone. This, of course, lead to many misunderstandings of the sitcom variety that I may touch upon later. Just know that I quickly learned that a bum was not an explosive devise, and that "Dick" is not short for Dick Van Dyke.

Because we were young children and required supervision, I suppose, instead of a traditional recess with the older kids of the school, we were kept inside and had "Play Time." We had a variety of games, toys and other things to amuse ourselves. The most popular toys were the blocks and the miniature play kitchen set up. The teacher would assign us to either the block corner, or the doll corner. We would raise our hands and hope to get picked, and hope we got to where we wanted to go.

I usually went back to my desk and drew in crayon.

One day the teacher started to notice that no girl wanted to play with blocks and no boy wanted to play house. So instead of picking those with raised hands, she just randomly assigned kids. I ended up in the block corner. That's where I met Max.

Max was an Argentinian boy, who also struggled with English. We found a kinship in that. The more we spoke the more things in common we had. Turned out he lived about two blocks from my house.

I told my mother about him on the way out of class and she went up to his mother and introduced us. I guess my mom and his mom hit it off immediately, as we started hanging out on swing set after school quite a bit.

In class, Max and I became best friends. We always volunteered to play in the block corner. If one of us was chosen and the other was not, the chosen one would give up their spot to some other kid and we'd both go draw.

We started to notice that the teacher started making an effort to separate us. Max came up with an idea. He'd sneak in a toy from home and we'd play with that at our desks.

The first toy he ever brought in for us to play with was the CHiPs Motorcycle Launcher. Wed make ramps with stolen blocks from the block corner, we'd make obstacles with those fat crayons the school provided, we'd draw people and cut them out and make standees so the motorcycle could run them down, but most of all we'd found our own way to have fun.

Of course our teacher put the kibosh on it once she caught onto our setup. She told our mommies on us. Our mommies had our backs, but told us not to make waves in class and to mind our teacher. So we did... In OUR way.

We pretended we were no longer friends when the teacher was watching and we went back to our withdrawn ways. Finally noticing we were no longer participating and sad, the teacher relented.

We celebrated by playing with Max's CHiPs Motorcycle Launcher once again.

I don't know whatever became of Mrs. Micelli, our kindergarten teacher, or that CHiPs toy, but I do know that Max and I are still friends.

28 years and counting.

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