Post 29 — The Girl and the Goat

This one grew up to be doctor, and it all started at the Goat Island Club.

This one grew up to be doctor, and it all started at the Goat Island Club.

The Samoan Board of Education had decided that there weren’t enough children under the age of six to support a full-time kindergarten, nor was there any available classroom space to hold one. But the stay-at-home moms of the few five-year-olds around disagreed, and a do-it-yourself kindergarten was launched with the moms acting as the teachers. They started slowly by holding class in the living rooms at Tafuna, but realized quickly that more space would be needed.

Fortunately, there was another souvenir building left over from the military that went by the spiffy name of the Goat Island Club. Legend said that a Naval commander stationed in Samoa had a goat kidnapped from another island and brought over so that his wife could have fresh goat’s milk in her pantry, and that the club was named in the animal’s honor. That wasn’t really much of a reason to call it that, but then it really wasn’t much of a club.

The room looked like it had been decorated by a petulant set designer who was fired from one of the Hope/Crosby Road films. A bar in one corner with a moldy mat stapled to the front was the only indication that drinks were available for purchase. A few tikis were scattered about but they were arranged so oddly that they made the tiki bar concept seem out-of-place in the region where it was invented. Stale cigarette smoke circulated slowly throughout the space with the help of a creaking ceiling fan and the smell of mildew permeated the bathrooms. There was one large room that was set up with folding chairs for when movies were shown and then emptied for dances. Its biggest plus was that it was vacant during the day so that the puddles of spilled beer could evaporate.

The do-it-yourself kindergarten saw only potential. While not the most traditional type of classroom space, the moms decided that if they stacked folding chairs in front of the bar to keep the kids out of the liquor, it would work fine. They brought in books and crayons and a few small tables and created the South Seas version of the Little Red Schoolhouse. The only problem was when the children sat in a circle for storytime, sometimes they would find their little bottoms stuck to the residue on the floor.

Karen was thrilled that she would finally get a chance to attend a real school. Having her older sisters gone all day had seemed like a great idea at first, but she quickly grew bored when there was no one around to tag after or tattle on. She entered the club holding her mother’s hand but soon took off on her own to explore her new classroom. There was a boy she didn’t recognize and she sat down next to him.

“Hi, I’m Karen,” she announced, but the boy did not reciprocate. Instead, he opened the box of Crayolas sitting on the small table between them and pulled out a black crayon. Karen did the same, selecting a lovely shade of rose. The box was brand new, and the rows of perfect points gave off a heady, waxy scent. She paused, waiting to see what they were going to draw. The boy then proceeded to eat the entire crayon. Karen was somewhat taken aback, but no one else in the room seemed to be paying attention so it was tough to know if this was part of the curriculum. Maybe this was what went on all day. She shrugged, and then delicately bit the tip off her own crayon. Finally, she was getting the education she deserved.

 

Karen loves school and is trying to kick thumb-sucking. It will have to be gradual, she just can’t do it cold turkey. Kathy is blossoming into a real charmer, all personality and poise. Her teacher lives next door and he mentioned that in addition to being the best reader he has ever seen, she has also made a very good social and emotional adjustment. I am very glad to see her becoming at ease with kids her own age. Unfortunately, Lynn is not faring as well. There are only eight girls in her class and since they all knew each other from the previous year it is a fairly closed corporation. She is convinced she is skinny, ugly, has horrible hair and can’t make friends. This discussion occurred this evening after an accumulation of three days of picking fights with her sisters. I figure it takes one to know one so maybe I can at least let her talk it out on an understanding ear.

Jean

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