When my parents took me back, I was five. They used their connections to put me into a 24/7 kindergarten not far from their central city apartment. I spent there two years before the elementary school.
They did pick me up almost every late evening, and I slept most of the nights at home. But I never new whether it would happen, or if I would need to stay in a group of lost boys from uncaring families and a tired night nanny.
Arriving in this place every morning was a torture. The buildings were new but filled with smells of foods I could not stand, at all times. The locker room shelves were the ugliest thing I saw: painted with flat bright colors, with cheesy fruits and flowers on the doors.
Let me explain, why I would rather forget this place.
We had two young female teachers, who worked with us in classrooms for the first hours of the day. Their uncontrolled anger and cruelty to some kids were horrid.
A few examples:
- We had two mandatory napping hours in our huge bedroom for a few dozen kids, probably about 35. We could not choose our places, they were assigned, and we were forced to lay there without movement - next to a random kid on a paired bed. I could never sleep during the day, especially in company, so these hours of forced immobility were endless sterile boredom.
- That bedroom had big glass doors into the connected play and study halls. If some of the boys misbehaved during the day, they were punished by being stripped entirely naked and placed to stand on their beds for hours, and every other child could see them, in horror that it might happen to anyone. I did not realize at that time that the teacher-women targeted only untrustworthy kids with absent or weak parents, to avoid complains.
- When one of the girls soiled her panties, she was forced to wash them in a bucket in front of all of us in the main hall. Her humiliated desperate crying was so shocking, that I don't even remember whether this was a general rule or a random act of sadism by the women in power. The girl was not my friend, but she was a nice delicate child, with a beautiful curly hair, and she could not stop crying, loudly, without looking around at all. I don't remember seeing her again.
- I was disgusted by their food, and ate almost exclusively plain bread, the worst kind, as I found out later. Multiple times, I was brutally force fed by one of the teachers. When my mother finally talked to them about it, they left me alone, and I was giving all my plates to the hungrier kids. I hate the smell of canteens till this day.
- We were allowed to play outside only for an hour a day or so, and only in small, wire-fence separated areas. I hated such confinements, because in my earlier childhood I at least had a freedom to run under the sky wherever and whenever I wanted.
I dreamed to go to a real school.