There were seven of us in my kindergarten class. Four boys and three girls. The boys sat at one table, which in reality was two tables pushed together so that we sat in a square. The girls sat at another table. We shared a much larger classroom with grades one and two, who sat in scattered clusters of tables in similar formation as our own, with boys at one table, and girls at the other.
While the teacher made the rounds, giving each table instruction on what to do, we had been given a simple colouring in task to complete. It was an outline of a pear printed with that photocopying ink that is blue-purple in colour, and reeks. Half the fun for the first few minutes is to sniff the ink. Not tentative, wee little sniffs, either, but deep, huge inhalations that would make us sag back in our seats.
"Aw, that smells," someone would comment. Smells, of course was understatement, but being barely five years old, none of us had a very sophisticated vocabulary.
"It stinks," someone else would concur. We'd all look at one another, sly grins on our young faces.
"Let's do it again!"
All four of us would inhale. Deeply. It would never have occurred to us whether or not we were doing some kind of damage to our brains sniffing that stuff. I doubt kindergarten kids had any concept of their mortality. It was all spur of the moment decisions; it was action, action and action.
Colouring in at this level was always a good distraction. Once the novelty of ink sniffing wore out, we plunged headlong into the task set us.
"Pears are yellow," someone pointed out.
Needless to say, we were all in agreement there. However, as we discovered to our chagrin, there were only three yellow pencils in the tub on our desk. It was, as is often the case with young boys, a case of first in best dressed. There was no politeness, but rather, an informal competition that would gradually be weaned out of us the farther along the path of schooling we progressed. A throwback to our Neanderthal ancestors where if you wanted something, you just snatched and grabbed and didn't care if anyone missed out.
In this case, it was Adam who missed out. For several seconds, he simply sat that, his hand still outstretched, hovering over the container of pencils, fingers splayed. He glanced around, firstly at the rest of us, who were scribbling furiously at our pear outlines with our yellow pencils, then around the room to where the girls were busy at their own pears. All three of them had a yellow pencil, too. It would seem that life had conspired for Adam to not get a yellow pencil. Ah. Yes. Life was not meant to be easy.
But Adam was not going to be put off by what was a minor inconvenience. As was to be in his nature, the boy who seemed to always think outside of the box before that expression even gained traction, his fingers closed around a green pencil.
Secure with his choice in colour, he began to grace his pear.
"Pears are yellow," someone insisted.
"Some pears are green."
"No. Pears are yellow."
"Some pears are green," Adam repeated, without skipping a beat.
"No! Pears are yellow!"
Adam didn't even stop colouring in to reply. "Some pears are green. When they're not ripe. And if you eat them when they're not ripe, they make your tummy sore. And then your poops go all runny."