Are you relaxed?

by Elouise


Annie Wright Schools Kindergarten — Tacoma, Washington in the 1940s

It’s 1948. I’m in kindergarten in El Monte, California. I love kindergarten. I love my kindergarten teacher. I adore rest time!

The routine is always the same. Rain or shine. At the appointed time, each of us picks out a brightly painted plank of wood – blue, green, red or yellow.

I carry my red plank to the middle of the room, find a little space between classmates, put the plank on the hardwood floor, and lie down on my back, on my make-believe bed.

I also shut my mouth and close my eyes. Until it’s perfectly silent, my kindergarten teacher won’t begin the fun part.

When we’re all silent as a mouse, she begins the daily rest routine. No peeking!

Without warning I feel her hand raising my wrist up into the air. Suddenly she lets it go. Will my arm fall to the floor, or hover a bit before I put it on the floor? She does this several more times, whispering encouragement as needed.

It doesn’t take long to learn to let either arm just fall to the floor. I’m so proud of myself I’m surprised I didn’t burst!

Relaxation. One of the most challenging practices of my life.

I felt safe in my kindergarten class. Protected. Guided. Appreciated. Not just when my arm dropped to the floor, but from the moment I walked into the classroom.

I don’t think I truly relaxed again until I was in my 40s. The rest of the time I was running for my life. On the inside, if not outside.

~Holding my breath
~Swallowing shame and humiliation
~Trying harder to be gooder
~Looking over my shoulder
~Waiting for the next punishing or impossible task to land on my desk
~Wondering whether I would die in office
~Sometimes wanting to die in my sleep
~Exhausted on the inside
~Together on the outside

My first lesson in kindergarten became my first lesson in psychotherapy: Relax. Breathe deeply and let it all go. You’re in safe hands. You’re doing great!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 December 2016
Photo found via Google at Annie Wright Schools (
No, my kindergarten wasn’t nearly this fancy.

Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Relax