Expressing My True Self


My Real Memoir

Until you start school, your life revolves around your parents. They can do nothing wrong. Only later, in your teen years, do you realize they can do nothing right, and that your sagely friends and, of course, major pop stars, hold the real keys to life. But until then, your parent’s values are your values.

Mommandad were my friends. Apart from the older boy Weird Eddie, Frieda-the-Babysitter and Crazy Old Alice, Mommandad were everything. Dad was my hero, but he was usually away at Work saving the World. So Mom was my model. And she was the one who showed me what to treasure in life. For her, it was books, movies, and arts and crafts. In the Age of the Housewife, these were how she expressed her individuality, her true self.

And so that’s what they were for me.

I was finally going to school! Which was neato, but what was even neato-er was that I got to cross the street all by myself! I still remember the delicious terror of crossing for the first time. I’d been warned that if I attempted to cross alone, cars—hundreds of them—would swoop down and kill me over and over again. Yet here I was, crossing the street and not being killed even once!

But there was one thing I was even prouder of: my new Artist’s Smock! Mom had learned at Open House that we would be doing Art in kindergarten, and would need smocks. So she did what any mother of an Only-Child-Who-Happens-to-be-a-Genius would do. She spent two weeks stitching my personal “Authentic Parisian Artist’s Smock” to perfection, then finished it with a custom monogram just like the ones the penniless impressionists in Paris wore.

The first day of Kindergarten was excruciatingly slow. I blew bubbles in my milk, tapped my toes during nap time. Art finally arrived! But then Miss Shirley spoke the fateful words, “Alright, children, go to the closet and grab the first smock you see.”

By the time I got there, my smock had been snatched by a little cretin named Davey, who wouldn’t know a real artist’s smock from a dress shirt! Which was, in fact, what all of the other smocks in the closet were—kid’s dad’s dress shirts. Mine was the only Authentic Parisian Artist’s Smock. So I went straight to Miss Shirley, and pointed out her hideous error.

“We all need to learn to share,” she replied.

“Share?” I was an Only. Onlies don’t “share!”

Mom was heartbroken. She called the teacher and begged her to reconsider: “I made that smock just for him. It has his monogram on it.”

No exception was made. And I was irrevocably scarred, becoming at last the shattered shell of a man you see before you today.

OK, so I got over it.

But I still treasure storytelling and art, and expressing my true self.

Thanks to you, Mom.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Expressing My True Self

  1. Pingback: Weird Eddie | Mitch Teemley

  2. Linda Lee/Lady Quixote says:

    That’s so sad about your artist smock! Baaaaaad kindergarten teacher. Baaaaaaad!

    You know what is even sadder? I did not go to kindergarten. I had to wait until first grade to cross a street all by myself. 😦

    Liked by 11 people

  3. That would have driven me crazy if someone had grabbed my specially made smock. I remember using smocks, but I think the school provided them.

    Liked by 8 people

  4. Gary Fultz says:

    “Rude Awakenings” sounds like a good childres book. Maybe?
    What a great story Mitch. My mom would have said. ” use this old shirt” pulling out my ole favorite I kept rescuing from the garbage can.

    Liked by 8 people

  5. uncoffined says:

    Teachers inherently teach socialism (equal outcomes for all), and individuality is frowned upon. It’s a harsh lesson to learn when you are very young.

    Liked by 11 people

  6. I love that story. I really felt for you and your mum. That was so unfair! She should have taken it back for you to wear at home and replaced it with an old shirt.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. Oh, I raised an only! It’s so easy for mother’s to over-mother them. I was a den mom, school and church volunteer, chauffeur to everything, but I never monogrammed anything for him! (I did let him design a quilt, which his 4-year-old (and only child) daughter uses today.)

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Yes, I feel sympathy for the five-year old Mitch, who couldn’t wear his special smock. But your poor mother! All that time and effort to make you feel like a real artiste, and the smock was thrown in the bin with a bunch of old shirts. I hope you at least got a turn with your monogrammed smock!

    Liked by 8 people

  9. pkadams says:

    I don’t agree with that teacher . 😑

    Liked by 6 people

  10. Gina Cash says:

    My heart broke a little for your kindergarten self and the injustice of it all. I’m glad you got over it and still find many great avenues for your Parisian Artist self!

    Liked by 5 people

  11. K.L. Hale says:

    This is a neato posto. The smock debacle proved your persistence. Smock schmock. You did it! 💛

    Liked by 5 people

  12. A dear family friend shocked me one day when she insisted one doesn’t always have to share! I’ve come to agree with her. There is a time for everything.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. My artist’s apron was a kitchen apron. At least you had a smock. Be gracious, O Ye Ungrateful man! 🤣🤣🤣

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Warren Womack says:

    Awe, the power of public education equity! The utility of “the-one-fits-all-smock” is still being put on by many of the educated today! The true values of creativity and work put into something for love is still being thrown into the dirty smock bin unfortunately. W. L. Womack, Portland,OR

    Liked by 4 people

  15. You paint a good picture of the event Mitch. I remember having an old button down T shirt my grandfather no longer wore. The sleeves were cut to fit me.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. That is totally unacceptable!! Wow!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Ann Coleman says:

    Sometimes it’s hard for adults to understand just how important something like an artist’s smock can be to a child. Clearly, there was a misunderstanding between your mom and the teacher! But no matter how hard we try to protect our kids, those things will happen. I still remember the day my son came home from school terribly upset. When I asked what was wrong, he told me that someone had sent a “king cake” in to the classroom for Mardi Gras. The teacher cut the cake and gave each child a big slice. But my son and his friends were the last two to be served, and by then there was only once piece left….so the teacher cut it in half and gave half to my son and half to his friend. My son was devastated! All the other kids got a big piece, but he and Michael got a tiny piece. The horror……..

    Liked by 4 people

  18. librepaley says:

    Lovely anecdote – though sorry for Mom.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. A nice tribute to your Mom.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. gpavants says:


    That had to be a memorable moment to still recall. I have a few of those, too. Have a great week.


    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: The Year I Turned Shy | Mitch Teemley

  22. This is so well-written! I am also so mad at this teacher. How could she let this other kid wear your personalized smock?

    Liked by 1 person

  23. quiall says:

    Thank you for following my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. What a wonderful story. Shows how much your mother loved you.
    I probably would have gone to school and taken the smock home and left an old shirt.
    However, that might have made things worse for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Pingback: I Turned Out Like You After All, Dad | Mitch Teemley

  26. You are a very gifted story teller. It almost felt as if I was there when the smock was discovered on that other kid, and when your mom tried to reason with the teacher. Sad to hear about your smock, but glad to see it didn’t make you lose your passions.

    Liked by 1 person

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