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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 3, September 2015

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Ray Rasmussen
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Responsibilities

I remember a large, secure hand way up there in the air for me to hang onto on the way to my first day of kindergarten. When mom left me with all those strangers, I went to the window, watched her walk away, and wept, despite having been told by my grandfather, "Men don't cry!"

Over the next weeks, I learned that my responsibilities consisted of lining up, paying attention, sitting still, not fighting and not crying. If I broke any of the first four rules, I was made to lie down on a large sheet of paper at the back of the classroom – punishment by isolation and humiliation. If I broke the fifth rule, there was merciless hounding by the bullies.

After school, I'd hurry home to toy airplanes and listening to mom sing as she made spaghetti.

Over the years, I somehow made a transition from that hapless boy who was taken everywhere and given everything—clothing, meals, songs, nighttime stories—to being married with two daughters.

first school day
a small hand
clasping mine

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