Mrs. Fusselli was Mrs. G's kindergarten teacher. She ran the school out of her home, which was probably best because if anyone in the school district had come to supervise her methods, she would have undoubtedly stared icily at them until they left the premises ten to fifteen minutes later and got the hell out of dodge.
Mrs. Fusselli was unusually tall and had orange hair that didn't move. If she bent over you to survey your work, the smell of Aqua Net was strong enough to temporarily burn your eyeballs. Mrs. Fusselli wasn't out and out mean, but referring to her as nice would be exceeding hospitable. She was strict and had no truck with monkey business whether you were six or forty-four. She called everyone by their surname.
Mrs. Fusselli likely thought she was encouraging when she looked over your coloring work sheet. "Miss Copeland," she would say to Mrs. G, "that is excellent coloring but in order to familiarize you with reality, I must tell you that dogs are not purple. I appreciate your creativity but real world sensibility inspires a life long mastery of a successful and worthwhile existence." Mrs. G. was six and far less interested in a worthwhile existence than the graham crackers and apple juice passed out at snack time.
One morning, Mrs. G. slammed her pinky finger in her grandmother's car door as she was getting out of the car to head to class. While Mrs. G. carried on, crying and screaming, her grandmother tried to comfort her. Mrs. Fusselli marched out of her house and demanded Mrs. G. wiggle her pinky finger to prove it wasn't broken. Mrs. G. did and Mrs. Fusselli declared Mrs. G's bruised an swollen finger a second-string accident. After all, it was her left hand, which according to Mrs. Fusselli was attached to an inferior limb. "Chin up, Miss Copeland. You're fine. It's not like your grandmother ran you over with her car." Mrs. G's grandmother kissed Mrs. G. head and told her to shake it off. This was a time when teachers, like dinosaurs, ruled the earth and didn't care what parents thought. Mrs. Fusselli wouldn't have it. And most parents, like Mrs. G's grandmother, didn't dare question a teacher's proficiency. They just lit up a Camel cigarette and drove off in their Dodge Dart.
On the day Mrs. G. was to graduate from kindergarten and receive her diploma, she opened the medicine chest to grab the tooth paste. A silver wrapper caught her eye and when she opened it, it was chocolate. It wasn't beyond Mrs. G's grandmother to hide candy (particular Applets and Cotlets) so Mrs. G. assumed this was her grandmother's new candy hideaway. Mrs. G. nibbled a square and within six minutes she had eaten the whole bar. She marched into the living room where her grandparents were sitting in their chairs no one else was allowed to sit in and told her grandmother she had found her covert chocolate stash in the medicine cabinet. Her grandmother shot her grandfather a terrified look and muttered, "Hells Bells, this is going to be a day." The "chocolate" was Ex-Lax.
Mrs. G. spent most of the morning on the pot, swearing to Jesus and Mary and Joseph that she would never eat unidentified chocolate or open the medicine chest again. "How are you doing in there?" Mrs. G's grandmother would ask outside the bathroom door. "How do you think I'm doing? You've poisoned me with your underground candy railroad."
Mrs. G's grandmother called Mrs. Fusselli and explained the situation. Mrs. Fusselli insisted that Mrs. G. attend the graduation to teach her an important lesson about consuming "food" from a medicine chest and building character.
Of course, Mrs. G's grandparents drug her to the graduation, and Mrs. G. walked up to receive her diploma focused on squeezing her butt cheeks as tightly as she could, and, frankly, not pooping her pants at such an esteemed ceremony. When Mrs. Fusselli handed Mrs. G. her diploma, She said, "Miss Copeland, I am proud of you for coming. You will realize from first-grade on, life is hard." So is your helmet head thought Mrs. G, but she just took her diploma and found her grandparents pronto to get her ass home. Mrs. G's grandfather drove as fast as he could, which was five miles over the speed limit. Unlike Mrs. G, he was not a law breaker. They made it home just in time, and Mrs. G. spent several more hours on the pot and had to miss her favorite show, Cagney and Lacey . But her grandfather, no doubt feeling sympathy for a six-year-old's simple mistake, yelled the plot to her as she sat in the bathroom.
Now that's the kind of love a kindergartner deserves.
Mrs. Fusselli didn't get it, the need for kindness and love children hunger for, and in hindsight, maybe she didn't get it when she needed it most.