Time, You Funny Thing


Photo by Andrew Preble on Unsplash

Dear Mrs. King,

I’m not sure if you’d prefer I call you Mrs. King or Shelly. I’m not even sure if you are a Mrs or a Miss or a Ms. I definitely wasn't paying much attention to those formalities when I was your kindergarten student.

You’ve left an impression these 25 years later--and I’m not referring to the time you pinched me in retaliation for my pinching a classmate. I’ll never ever ever forget that. I’m not quite sure I’ve forgiven you, not entirely. I mean, you pinched me.

Anyway, I have several memories from that year. You always carried an umbrella, always, even if it was blue skies and sunshine. You laughed. A lot. You had a temper when it came to too much chatter. I often played with the grocery store set you brought to class for us, pretending to sell produce. I believe I specialized in tomatoes.

It’s funny that I have such a clear vision of that year (especially since the only thing I can remember about 3rd grade is my best friend, Ashley, cried, rather sobbed, during our weekly spelling test when she couldn’t remember how to spell tornado).

Maybe the reason I remember that year so well is it was my introduction to a much larger, much more diverse world than what my home provided. Your classroom stimulated my senses. I was overwhelmed with colors (the people, the construction paper, the behavior color cards) new languages (I had never heard Spanish spoken so quickly before) music (you loved the banjo) and the smells (Vincent at my table, my goodness had so many smells).

You, Mrs. King, have certainly left an impression. More than colors and sounds. You shaped an optimistic perspective on life, chaos, dreams, struggles. Let’s see if I can show you. Hmm. Can you do me a favor? Close your eyes for a moment. Now try to imagine time. Really try to visualize time, the days of the week, the months of the year, a clock. How do you read time? What does that look like in your mind?

I ask because when I close my eyes and think of the month of March, it hangs on a bright poster board just above Steven’s head--you have to remember Steven, he always had his color card turned--always. And when I think of the month of June, it circles around the back of the room just above July to make room for the window trim. And then the months take a turn, in one giant circle, so December and January are side by side.

I have never thought anything of it until I asked Bryan, my husband, how he visualizes time. Funny thing happened. He pictured it above Steven’s head, too. Just kidding.

Bryan, instead, sees the months of the year like a flash card. He must’ve learned the months this way: January. *flip* February. *flip* March. *flip* And so on. But it ends with December. It doesn’t keep going with January again. It stops.

This had me really thinking. If you knew Bryan, you’d know he is a problem solver (the cleverest I know), a forward thinker, an observer of high degree, big picture and little detail kind of mind. Most importantly, Bryan is a realist, contrasting my idealistic optimism in the most perfect way.

So what does this mean? Still trying to figure that out. But here is what I have:

Bryan calculates time linearly. He understands that each moment shouldn’t be taken for granted, because--flip--it’ll disappear and the next one comes along. For Bryan, there is no retracing his steps or going back in time because time is a straight line. A beginning with an end. There’s something beautiful about the way Bryan interacts with time. Each moment has value. It’s irreplaceable.

And I see time as something cyclical, like the seasons. When I picture a clock, it isn’t a digital clock that flashes numbers in linear order, but it is a round watch around my wrist that ticks in a circle. (side note: this might be why I’m always late? I'm a time optimist) The months of the year are on the walls of your room, in a giant circle. And there’s something beautiful about that, too. See I believe in second chances. I think, perhaps, your classroom is where my optimism bloomed.

Just in case this is all coincidence, and I’m looking for correlation when there just isn’t any, I ask you to close your eyes and visualize time. How do you see time? Is it within grasp? Does it sometimes freeze? Do you start your year at August, like my mother does, because your world revolves around summers with your kids? It is a cycle of seconds, living life in a duration of 10 seconds at a time, bit size/fun size?

Whether this theory has some merit or not, Mrs. King, thank you for nurturing an optimistic experience with time and helping me believe in second chances.

And to Bryan’s kindergarten teacher, thank you for teaching him the value of each and every second and how fleeting and precious time can be.


Kindergarten teachers, you are a special breed. Thank you for introducing those little ones to a larger, a more diverse world. Bravo!

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a pleasant week. Time is a funny thing, sometimes it's fleeting, sometimes it feels like it isn't even close to moving (especially for me during COVID-19). I hope you are well, feeling comforted, and hopeful.

Wishing you a wonderful Thursday,