In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ode to a Playground.”

Mr. Rivard was my Kindergarten teacher at Las Lomas Elementary. His smile was big and warm, and when it stretched out it would fit perfectly inside of his neatly groomed facial hair. He had a perfectly round shaped, and shiny bald head and he always wore corduroy pants paired with plaid flannel button down shirts.  I loved him immediately because he felt familiar, and safe, a lot like my worn out teddy bear. I just could not stand the way he looked at me with all of that pity and concern. It would make me feel guilty and even ashamed that I couldn’t ever just make him feel happy. I know he was only trying to help me cope with being bullied at school, but I also wondered if this extra attention is only making things worse for me.

I dreaded everything about school, but I always feared recess the most.  When lunch was over I would push my way to the front of the gate so that I could be the first kid out on that playground. When that gate would swing open I would run as fast I could  towards a large fleshy colored round plastic structure with small holes cut out that all of the kids had nicknamed The Cheese. They named it for its shape, and I would have to agree.  This object closely resembled a giant wheel of Swiss cheese.

If I was at the gate when it opened, and if I ran fast enough I could make it to The Cheese before anyone would ever see me. On those days I always felt most happy while at school. I often thought being ignored and left alone was far better than being bullied.  On those days I could spend an eternity here in The Cheese. When I was having a really bad day I would lay on the cold wet sand, in the center.  Curled up in a ball I would grab both knees and pull them tightly into my chest, forcing my eyes closed shut. On those days Mr. Rivard would have to come and find me, and bring me back to the classroom. The silence of The Cheese muffled the laughter of the playing children.  Laying on this cold wet sand it felt like home.  The Cheese soothed me, and I missed my Mom.

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