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  • The Kindergarten Mat

    May 8, 2009

    When Sean was about two, I bought him one of those kindergarten mats at Walmart.  I’m sure you know the kind I’m talking about:  plastic, red on one side and blue on the other, folds into fours.  If you are like me, you probably had one yourself when you were in kindergarten. And that is exactly the reason I bought it — because I had one. Nostalgia, pure and simple. That and impulse.

    Be that as it may, we have had that mat for three years now and so far it has not once been used as mat upon which to nap.

    The first year we had it, the mat was a ticket booth. Sean would set it on its edge into a square. He would then stand inside the square and alternately take and sell invisible tickets, just like a little scalper. Over the course of any afternoon I would buy and redeem hundreds of tickets. I was a loyal and enthusiastic customer.

    The next year, the mat was a boat. He would lay it out on the breakfast room floor and spend hours outfitting it and laying in supplies for the journey – a tiny lawn chair with a built-in umbrella, Goldfish, sippy cup of milk, matchbox cars, plastic animals, books — you know, all the seafaring necessities. And then he and I would set sail for far away places.

    This year the kindergarten mat is a surf board. He puts it on top of the coffee table and hangs ten.  I stand on the back and shoo the sharks away.

    And now, this school year is about to come to a close.  In September he will start kindergarten.

    And maybe then, the kindergarten mat will be a kindergarten mat.


    1. Amy says:

      I think I may have to go out and buy a mat, too. I love the ticket booth option. Great post!

      May 8th, 2009 at 12:08 am

    2. HarryJacksMom says:

      ah, we have those mats and used them for make-shift beds at first…and I really miss those sweet little chairs with their built-in umbrellas :sniff: they grow so quickly. great post, as ever – happy weekend!

      May 8th, 2009 at 1:13 am

    3. RefreshMom says:

      hmmm…sounds like a great investment. I can imagine Bug and Boo coming up with all kinds of uses for that.

      But from what I’ve seen of kindergarten this year, the mat would have to be sold under some other name here–there’s apparently no need for a mat in kindergarten. (Which is sadder than it sounds; kindergarten could benefit from some nostalgia these days.)

      May 8th, 2009 at 1:43 am

    4. Melissa says:

      This was just great. I too have had those mats in my home. Right now my daughter is with us with her three children, my “grand”children, I am thinking that we need to run and get some of those ticket stands, boats and surf boards. Speaking of surf boards I got a chuckle thinking of you on the board on the talble protecting from sharks. Go AntiqueMommy. 🙂

      May 8th, 2009 at 5:06 am

    5. Nan says:

      Heaven forbid it should become simply a mat!

      Have you read him “The Land Of Story-Books” by Robert Louis Stevenson? or his “Pirate Story”:

      “Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing,
      Three of us abroad in the basket on the lea.
      Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring,
      And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.

      Where shall we adventure, to-day that we’re afloat,
      Wary of the weather and steering by a star?
      Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat,
      To Providence, or Babylon or off to Malabar?

      Hi! but here’s a squadron a-rowing on the sea–
      Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar!
      Quick, and we’ll escape them, they’re as mad as they can be,
      The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the shore.”

      It sounds like Sean would love poetry as much as my boys do, for the sheer imaginativeness!

      May 8th, 2009 at 6:30 am

    6. Pam D says:

      I bought one of those mats, too. And then, when my boy got to kindergarten, everyone had these “fancy” mats, covered with cloth with a built in pillow and blanket. He was the only one laying there on his cold plastic mat with no cover. Yes, I gave in and bought the deluxe version. I did. The shame….

      May 8th, 2009 at 6:38 am

    7. Goslyn says:

      Ah, but it’s so much more fun when it’s NOT a kindergarten mat.

      Great post. You have such a creative little guy.

      * * *
      He is VERY imaginative. It makes me wistful to think that whatever his mat becomes this fall at kindergarten, I won’t be included. Sigh.

      May 8th, 2009 at 7:51 am

    8. Heidi says:

      A ticket booth?


      That is the cutest thing I’ve ever read.

      I really need a five year old around here again. Really.

      May 8th, 2009 at 8:29 am

    9. Deborah says:

      What percious memories. I love it when kids see extra special stuff in the orndinary. (Later today I’ll be posting about the fashion show my daughter was just in where she designed clothes out of trash bags, caution tape, & coke can tabs.) Always let him imsgine.

      May 8th, 2009 at 8:32 am

    10. Jenny-Jenny says:

      Such awesome adventures you’ve had with ‘The Mat’. Laundry baskets and empty boxes from what should have been very cool toys. Those were the tools for many an adventure at our house.

      May 8th, 2009 at 9:03 am

    11. Marie says:

      My first child used that kindergarten mat. Second one also. Third one had to bring a rug. A RUG!! Who can rest on a rug on a hard floor? Here they don’t allow the mats anymore – they take up too much room and the cubbies are small.

      Good luck!! lol


      May 8th, 2009 at 9:26 am

    12. Shoe says:

      Don’t count on it. I still have sons. I use it to do exercises on on would if I got out and did exercises!

      One of those mats are a necessary.

      May 8th, 2009 at 9:36 am

    13. Brigitte says:

      Now it’ll be even more nostalgic for him than it was for you.

      Hmmm, I thought he was too old for my “pumpkin”, but she’s starting kindergarten this fall too. Now I’ll have to fix ’em up! 😉

      May 8th, 2009 at 10:08 am

    14. Roxanne says:

      Kindergarten. . .the only thing that made it bearable for me was that I had to go to school everyday too.

      May 8th, 2009 at 10:18 am

    15. Ashley, with CWDkids says:

      Your story sounds like a great book, Christina Katerina And The Box. It is a cute story about a girl who uses her mom’s old refrigerator box to make a fort, a boat, etc.. Your son may enjoy it.

      Have a great day!

      May 8th, 2009 at 10:21 am

    16. everydayMOM says:

      That’s awesome! Let’s hope it doesn’t become a plain-old mat. So many kids these days are so “entertained” by all the gadgets their parents give them that they lack creativity to entertain themselves. That’s great that he is such a creative thinker!

      May 8th, 2009 at 10:25 am

    17. Mary says:

      Oh I hope not. What wonderful adventures he has had with his not so kindergarten mat.

      May 8th, 2009 at 10:44 am

    18. Bill McNutt says:

      Shoot. I was gonna say “I hope not.” Mary beat me to it.


      May 8th, 2009 at 11:18 am

    19. Jenn @ Casa de Castro says:

      I LOVE this post! Not being a mommy, I haven’t had occasion to buy a mat for pre-kindergartener, but I do have a 40+ year romance going on with my own.

      The year I went to kindergarten, my precious grandmother asked my mom if she could be the one to purchase my nap mat. (In those days it was simply a towel.) She bought the cutest towel. It was white (yes, WHITE to be used on the FLOOR for naps, but…), and it had a cute, happy little clown on it. After I got over my excitement from seeing the towel, she pulled out the pièce de résistance: the matching washcloth. It was a miniature of the clown on the towel, and it was a PUPPET! That little puppet snuggled with me for every single kindergarten nap I ever took. I always thought of that little guy as a special friend, and I never felt alone because he was always waiting for me at nap time.

      The towel long ago joined the pile of dusting rags at my mom’s house, and my beloved grandmother joined Jesus in Heaven. But that little puppet still lives with me, a reminder of how much my grandmother loved me.

      May 8th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    20. tom says:

      Just think, you get your first call of the year from the school: “Is this Antique Mommy? Well, your son has just pillaged the art center, captured the class hamster and is holding the hall monitor at bay while standing on his mat up on top of the clay table and waving a paper towel roll and yelling ‘avast there!’.”

      May 8th, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    21. fuzzytop says:

      I love it that you shoo the sharks away!


      May 8th, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    22. Kira says:

      I couldn’t find a kindergarten mat anywhere this year and we needed one for preschool. So I bought Aerin a camping mat, a pink toddler sleeping bag, a ladybug quilt (the exact one she sleeps with at night), and a fleece throw. Guess what? She comes home after lunch every day because she won’t nap at school.

      May 8th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    23. Wendy says:

      I too send a boy off to kindergarten this coming fall. It makes my heart ache to think of it. I remember how I cried when I sent off my daughter. This time around I know it will be okay, but I know too how fast the time flies and how little of it I share. It has proven to be a good transition, from dependence to more independence but I do miss those lazy afternoons and having to pay the price (of kisses) to get through the door. Don’t fear, He is with you. He is with Sean.

      May 8th, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    24. gretchen from lifenut says:

      I’m another mother with a boy entering kindergarten in a few short months.

      Your son has many more years of making a mat into anything but a mat. The power of kindergarten can’t stop it.

      May 8th, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    25. Jenn says:

      I just love this post and his inventiveness now. Lord willing, he’ll always be that imaginative!

      May 8th, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    26. Jaime says:

      You know what I love? I love that Sean surfs on the coffee table. I think that is awesome.

      As a mom to a young, active boy, I often defend myself from criticism from those who think I’m too lenient. Quite frankly, I think as long as my son understands when I tell him “no” at someone else’s house, then he can jump on my sofa if I don’t mind! And when he’s a little older, I hope I have the opportunity to chase off sharks as he surfs from the coffee table!

      * * *

      You know what Jaime, when I had Sean, I decided I didn’t want to spend my days saying “Don’t scratch the coffee table!” So I got this old hand me down coffee table from a friend that is very sturdy. I painted it dark brown and covered the top of it with this dark brown faux sort of alligator print leather type stuff. Between the paint and faux leather, I’m in for $20. He stands on it, he puts his sippy cup on it, he runs his little cars on it, he jumps off of it and I don’t care. And? Believe it or not, it looks good. Everyone likes it. I should post a picture of it.

      Now, we have told him that he is not allowed to do that elsewhere, at other people’s houses, even if they say it is okay. And he gets that.

      May 8th, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    27. Kathy says:

      I love this AM.

      reminds me of a poem I love….

      Winken, Blinken, and Nod one night
      Sailed off in a wooden shoe —
      Sailed off on a river of crystal light,
      Into a sea of dew.
      “Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
      The old moon asked the three.
      “We have come to fish for the herring fish
      That live in the beautiful sea;
      Nets of silver and gold have we!”
      Said Winken,
      And Nod.

      May 8th, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    28. Minnesotamom says:

      I had one exactly as you described, and I loved it! I recall using it for other things, though at the moment I can’t recall what they were. All I can picture is its red and blue clashing marvelously with our basement’s burnt orange carpet. 🙂

      May 8th, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    29. Pam D says:

      I love your coffee table idea! And I love the balance of teaching Sean to respect other people’s things while not worshipping your own to the point of them “owning” you. Because, in the end, which is more important: a coffee table, or the precious memories of time spent playing with your boy? Can’t wait to see a picture of the table/ocean/road/whatever it needs to be!

      May 9th, 2009 at 1:42 am

    30. k&c's mom says:

      Ahhh. As a former K teacher, we had school-issued mats. I got a class set with all blue, and one red mat. What were they thinking? There was always a terrific uprising to have THE red mat. I finally had to have a printed rotation for who had the red mat. It was like being crowned king or queen for the day. (“YOU get the red mat today! Wave to your adoring public!”) It also probably ensured that all germs were shared equally.

      May 9th, 2009 at 8:13 am

    31. nb says:

      One of my favorite books when I was young was “Christina Katerina and the Box”. Your son’s adventures with his mat reminded me of that book. You should get it! As an adult, I discovered “Christina Katerina and the Time She Quit the Family”. I had to buy it – another great book!

      * * *
      I quit my family periodically but I always come back with my tail between my legs because no one else will put up with me.

      Have not heard of the Christina Katerina books but will put those on our must have list! 🙂

      May 9th, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    32. Gini says:

      My girls are 21, 20 and 15 and to this day an empty box and some blankets were always the favorite toys. We had castles, forts, houses, stores, hospitals for people and animals, etc. etc. They also used the box as a sled to slide down the stairs (caution needed on this one!). Happy imagination!

      May 9th, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    33. Elizabeth says:

      He is so lucky to have a spunky and willing side-kick like you. What marvelous adventures and memories you are making as a mother. Happy Mother’s Day!

      May 11th, 2009 at 12:34 am

    34. abby says:

      Our mat is most often used for the babies in our house (the plastic kind). They sleep on it and then ride on it when they have to move from room to room.

      I can’t say that a human has actually ever laid on ours. The babies and I are going to be so sad next year when Kindergarten calls! Maybe by August I’ll be ready!!

      May 11th, 2009 at 10:29 pm

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