“Okay, my brave little toasters, who’s ready for Show and Tell??” A muted scream erupted from 21 happy, juice-stained faces. One scream didn’t know muted was a part of the decibel scale. She just started grunting, “Show and Tell, Show and Tell,” like she was an extra on the set of Animal House, a movie she had never seen, but one she somehow embodied. That creature was named Kendra, and she was the reason Mrs. Williams’ kindergarten class wouldn’t be participating in that year’s field day. Kendra’s sweet dimpled smile hid more naughty than most thought possible. Kendra didn’t mean to be a menace. She was just precocious. That’s what her mother said. And Mrs. Williams. And the counselors. And the school psychologist.
(On the first day of school, Kendra’s mother gave Mrs. Williams a warning. “Don’t let her little Afro puffs and that dimple in her cheek fool you…she’s wild.” With that, Kendra’s mother left in what seemed like a hurry, the only mother not crying at kindie drop off.)
How does a class get banned from field day? It all started with Kendra’s obsession with Mary Poppins. It wasn’t just that Mary Poppins’ bag was so deep everything could fit in it. That was cool. It wasn’t even the fact that Mary Poppins could jump into a chalk drawing and hang out with cartoons. That was legit. But there was something about “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” that sent her heart soaring, up through the atmosphere (the lyrics are so catchy). So when Mrs. Williams said each of her students could bring a kite for Show and Tell before field day, Kendra’s mind began to race. One day to make all her dreams come true.
Mrs. Williams set out four creative stations with materials so her students could begin kite-making, a supposed symbol of the almost-graduated kindergarteners flying into first grade. Yikes.
While Kendra’s classmates ran quickly to the construction paper and glitter, Kendra hatched a plan. Scanning the materials made her wonder, “Can’t we do better? How can we send a kite up where the air is clear if we’re using the same paper we used to make turkeys at Thanksgiving? There’s got to be more. What would Mary Poppins do?” Kendra had to use outside materials. Nothing in her classroom would suffice.
“Okay, class. Now, tonight you need to finish working on your kites. We will have Show and Tell tomorrow morning and then, tomorrow afternoon, it will be time to fly our kites and celebrate field day!” Kendra knew how much Mrs. Williams’ appreciated her (Mrs. Williams always secretly giggled when Principal Hughes came to have a talk with Kendra), so she wanted to make Mrs. Williams proud.
Once home, Kendra got right to work. Kendra wanted to surprise everyone. She had found so far in her 5 years of life that her ideas were more fun when people were surprised by them. If she gave too much away, she often heard a word she really didn’t enjoy: No.
Knowing it was off limits, Kendra opened her mother’s bedroom door. She ran straight to the top drawer, the place where Momma kept her private things, which Kendra assumed were mainly diaries. Kendra pulled out a black strapless bra. She’d never seen her mother wear it, but she knew it could float. (“I mean, honey, with those flotation devices, you won’t need a life jacket on the boat,” she’d heard Daddy say to Momma as he winked at her.)
For the next step, she needed something long that could act as a tail. Kendra sat cross-legged in the middle of the living room and thought. A light bulb went off (it was on a timer) and Kendra remembered a commercial she had seen. (“Tampax is perfect for your adventures. They’re so comfortable, you’ll feel like you’re flying!”) She went to her mother’s bathroom. She looked under the sink and found exactly what she needed. Kendra didn’t know what the pads were for, but she knew they had wings.
After finishing things up with a combination of Elmer’s glue and duct tape, Kendra knew her kite would be the talk of the school. She hid it away in her The Princess and the Frog backpack so that no one could peek at her masterpiece, or as Principal Hughes would later call it, embarrassment.
On that sunny Friday morning, Kendra began her chant. Everyone was going to see her amazing kite. Mrs. Williams smiled her giant smile at Kendra, who was secretly her favorite, simply for the drama. Although Mrs. Williams dreaded field day, so much sweating and screaming, she couldn’t wait to see what Kendra had come up with to delight her before the festivities.
It was the greatest kite Mrs. Williams had ever seen. As readers know, it wasn’t actually a kite. It was very much a bra with maxi pads taped to it. To make it aerodynamic, Kendra had added tampons. She tied the strings together and fashioned a horrifying bow. There was no way it would fly, but a girl can dream.
Parents lined the classroom, hovering above their tiny counterparts, Kendra’s mother with her hands planted firmly on her hips, ready for the proverbial shit to hit the classroom fan.
“Okay, my wild things, let’s get started!” Kendra’s hand shot up in the air.
“Mrs. Williams, can I go first?”
“Of course, Kendra!” A wide smile crept across Mrs. Williams’ face.
Kendra said a silent prayer to Mary Poppins and excitedly unzipped her backpack. Before she could finish, Kendra’s mother caught a quick glimpse of her fancy strapless bra and almost snatched Kendra’s soul out of her body. But time slows down at times like these, so before her mother could get her, Kendra revealed her kite.
Kendra didn’t have time to appreciate her classmates’ responses. The next thing she knew, she was being marched to the principal’s office by her own mother.
It was time to change schools.