Me, a light bulb

Posted by I'm the penguin | Posted in , , | Posted on Tuesday, March 02, 2010

One of my oldest clear memories is from when I was in kindergarten. I was five years old and I can remember I already had some crazy day dreams. I would often fantasize that when the teacher turned her back the whole class would stand from the little chairs, climb to the big table and start a heavy rock concert, then when the teacher turned back at us in surprise we would already be sited again in our little colored chairs. The teacher never turned away that long, plus I didn't even know what exactly was rock back then. But the memory I come to share has little to do with rock, and more about light bulbs.

This specific memory starts with five year-old me sitting in a little colored chair among my five-year-old peers. That morning our teacher had brought us a new device she would use to denote our efforts and achievements throughout the class. It was a blue cardboard with all of our names and next to it little Velcro squares to attach the merit of being a good five-year-old, a paper star. But since out names were "too long to fit in the spaces" the teacher had instead put stickers of objects that, she said, "represented our person".

I am aware that it would be difficult to believe that a five year-old would be excited about knowing what he represented, but you have to bear with me, I am the penguin after all. So she started showing us the stickers and linking them with our personalities. Jackie was a pony, because she was always full of energy and was pretty. Oscar was a teddy bear because he was adorable. Christian was a race car because he never stopped. And as she explained these poorly made metaphors of five-year-olds and their personalities I recall judging how well made they were, and to be honest I believed they were not accurate. But I was always told older people were smarter, so I convinced myself that she saw things in these people that I couldn't.

So, I was looking up for what was my symbol, I wanted to know what did the teacher think about me. Based on her experience, on knowing me for a long time, hearing my questions and doubts. I wanted to know what those eyes that saw things I didn't thought about my person. I was excited to find something new about me, to know what people thought about me. And so she finally stopped at a light bulb and said

"Well, this light bulb represents I'm the penguin... because..."

Then there was a pause. I was waiting, maybe that next adjective would change and mark me forever. But it didn't. The pause was not hype, not even forgetfulness, she had no idea why I was a light bulb. And I could see it in her eyes, adults don't seem to know this, but when they lie to five-year-olds there is this look in their eyes that is so obvious. They underestimate them (us). At that moment I was disappointed, but I also was five-years-old, so excitement over came the situation and I asked

"Is it because I'm always having ideas?"

I had to explain that in cartoons people are drawn to have a light bulb over their head when they had an idea, and so I was a light bulb because I was creative. Then the teacher understood and in relief she said "Yes, yes, it's because you always have ideas. See? you just had one." But that didn't fix it, it didn't took me longer than 10 minutes to figure out she had never known why I was a light bulb before, she had just assigned a random symbol I was supposed to accept. But why me? Why had she forgotten me and not Jackie the pony or Oscar the teddy bear? Was I unimportant and forgettable?

Or was it simply that she knew so little about five-year-old me that she couldn't think of anything and so she just used the last sticker to not leave me behind? I suppose that kindergarten teacher is not really guilty for not figuring out the personality of every kid. But that marked me, not even the woman which whom I spent all my mornings knew anything of who I was or what I thought at the age of five. In a way that started it, that started the belief that nobody would ever truly know who I was.

The idea that people would always think I was someone I was not had started to only be confirmed time after time later in life. Because it is not only about the light bulbs, it is about the social tags, it is about the friends you hang out with. At the end people have no idea who the hell are you, and just make characters with what you give them.

And yes, I was five-years-old.

Comments (0)