When I was in kindergarten we learned an alliterative verse for each letter of the alphabet that we'd chant every single day. There were twenty-six of them (obviously) but I can only remember two.
My name happened to be featured in the verse for the letter N, which was (as you've probably gathered from the title of this post), "Nancy Newt needs naps."
Now that I'm a mother I have come to enjoy both naps and newts (in that order because naps are way
better than newts) but as a five-year-old I found this verse rather offending. First of all—Nancy Newt?
Not anything elegant like Nancy Nightingale.
Not anything interesting like Nancy Narwhal.
Not anything exotic like Nancy Numbat.
(Yes, I'm reaching here—Numbat sounds too similar to Dumb-bat so it wouldn't have worked at all. There aren't really many creatures that begin with the letter N. Naked mole rat? I don't think so).
It had to be Nancy Newt—a slimy creature, the pet of witches, lover of dark and scary places.
And then there's the whole nap thing. I'm pretty sure I began shunning those long before kindergarten. I loathed how my babysitter would make me
take a nap because I was "so little" while she'd let my brother (who was "only" 2.5 years older than me (as if that even makes a difference when you're 4)) and her son (who was my age
only properly proportioned (ie. he maybe didn't look like he was 2)) play outside. I could see their long shadows dancing through the curtains while I sat in bed and seethed at the ceiling. Naps were lamer than lame.
Nancy was not a newt and Nancy certainly didn't take naps!
I came home from school and outraged complained to her mother, who took it up with the kindergarten teacher, who was in her last year before retirement and—although kind enough—was rather set in her ways. When my mom suggested changing the verse in some way—Nicholas Newt, for example, could be the one in need of a nap, or Nancy Nightingale could nibble...nectarines—Mrs. Thornton was aghast.
"Change the words?" gasped Mrs. Thornton. "But I have said it this way for many, many years!"
"But have you ever had a Nancy in your class?" my mom might have asked (because I am totally
making this conversation up).
"Well, no, but I simply couldn't change the words now. I have said them the same way since I very first began teaching," likely when dinosaurs were still roaming the planet. "Nancy should be honoured
to be in the poem. We say it every day!"
"That's part of the problem," my mom might have sighed before continuing her explanation, because not only was there a vain repetition of my name every single day at school there was also a girl named Allison.
Allison and I did not have an amicable relationship.
Everyday Allison would be sure to sit close to me—not too
close but just close enough—and then she would leer in my face and scrunch up her nose as menacingly as a kindergartener can as she chanted, "Nancy Newt needs naps!"
One day—several days into the school year since we didn't get to the letter N until after we did the letters A through Z (with one new verse introduced every day during the first few weeks of school)—I decided to get my revenge and when it came time for everyone to gather on the carpet to recite our alphabet verses I made sure to sit as close to Allison as I could—but not too
close, mind you.
My revenge cut fast and cold (as revenge is meant to be served), coming on the very first letter of the alphabet.
Alligator eats apples!" I hissed at mean ol' Allison.
And do you know what Allison did? She told on me.
She went and cried to the teacher about it, about how it hurt her feelings, about how mean it was.
And do you know what happened to me? I got in trouble because "changing the words to the verse was wrong."
verse, in case you were wondering, was "Ally Alligator eats apples."
That wasn't the only time I got unjustly punished in Mrs. Thornton's class, but Mrs. Thornton wasn't all bad. She did
knit little stockings (big enough to hold a small candy cane) for every single child in the class for Christmas, so...that's a redeeming quality, right?
Anyway, it took me awhile to get over the whole Nancy Newt thing. And it's possible my family still teases me about it.
Whatever, I'm so
I'm nearly-a-quarter-of-a-century over it.
I'm my-girls-found-a-newt-today-and-I-didn't-even-write-an-800-word-essay-about-it over it.
Ahem. So, perhaps I'm not as over it as I thought. But my girls really did find a newt today.
|A Red Eft (juvenile eastern newt)|