When I was four years old, my family lived in Westhaven, CA. It's a small town/area, with beach homes on the hillside. We were renting a lovely carpeted house (from what I recall of the prior home was a ton of wood), and I remember riding my plastic tricycle in the sunshine on our concrete driveway. The driveway was huge, according to my memories, and it had grass growing through the cracks.
Even though my tricycle seemed to burn out quite often (not the best traction on plastic wheels), I loved it. The seat opened up so I could put my goldfish crackers inside, and if I wanted to, I could put my legs over the handlebars and ride that way. While riding it, I made all sorts of discoveries. I remember parking my trike alongside the house, and realizing how eyes were made.
Oh! The discovery! All that happened, really, was people took marbles, and put whipped cream around them, and then placed a Saran Wrap-like substance to keep it all together. I mean, of course. What else would eyes be made of?
Or how about how to stop pain? "Mommy, I figured it all out. When you fall over," which I did a lot, "all you have to do is this." I then proceeded to clench my teeth together tightly, touch my tongue to the roof of my mouth, widen my lips to a grimace, and breath in a sharp gulp of air. Try it yourself. Honestly, I've been trying for the past couple of minutes to find an onomatopoeia to label it, but I can't. It needs an "h", and maybe an "s," a soft "k" or "q"... and maybe a silent "l"?
Anyway, upon hearing my discoveries, my mom would congratulate me on my wisdom, and ask me how I knew so much.
"Momma, I know it because of the schoolhouse in my heart."
The schoolhouse in my heart taught me many things. I mean, how else could I have spoken my first poem? (Yes, these blogposts run together.) I remember knowing the answers to so many of my own questions (What are strawberries made of? What happens when we cry?), but the strongest lesson I learned was about goldfish.
It's bad to eat stale goldfish. The crackers, not our watery (and fragile) friends.
One of those rare sunny days in Westhaven, I rode my tricycle to the end of my driveway, and opened up the seat. Inside were my old "fishie crackers". I put them on the grass-growing concrete, and began to eat them. They tasted different, and they were kind of squishy. When I looked down again at the ground, there were ants all over! I looked inside of my tricycle seat, and there were ants there as well.
The audacity of those ants! The schoolhouse in my heart was rallying. Not only had they decided to reside in my tricycle, but they changed the flavor of my beloved fishie crackers.
It apparently wasn't horribly traumatic, for I simply went inside and asked my mom for different crackers that didn't taste like the ants. Although sometimes dramatic, I could also be practical.
But still today, when I eat stale crackers, fishie crackers especially, a little something whispers inside of me that they taste like ants.