Sunday, September 12, 2004

School memories

Tomorrow the children of New York City begin school! The ones in public school, anyway. Like I said, I'll be working with kindergartners and first graders this week. Do you remember your first day of school? I don't. Sadly, I don't have a lot of specific memories about being in elementary school. Let's see what I can conjure up.

First of all, my parents applied to get me in to kindergarten early. Since my birthday is in November, I wouldn't be able to start until the year that I was already five. But when I was four, they were all, hey, she's smart, let's get her in school. That must have been...1984? Yeah. Anyway, so they took me to the University of Washington for testing by the psychology or sociology department. I know all of this because I have the report about it. The tester's description of me is a little depressing--a quiet, sad-looking little girl with dark hair. I had just moved, so I didn't know my address. Jeez, I was a toddler with newly-divorced parents--you can bet your ass I was confused about a lot of things on the home front. Anyway, they administered the Wechsler scales! We just learned about those this summer. I scored a vocabulary IQ of 106 (but the tester noted that I appeared to be having a bad day and that I was probably much better normally), and performance IQ of 123, and an overall IQ of 115. Neat! So I made it, my scores averaged higher than my age, up to six years in one or two categories. On I went to school.

I know that in kindergarten I was a big ol' knowitall (some things never change!), and I was always telling people how to spell things. I remember the big swing next to the giant cherry tree in the playground. I believe that we tried to learn how to use chopsticks. I did most of a second year in kindergarten because I was so young. Actually, I just found the 'report card' from my first K teacher, and she wrote that even though I was advanced for the level, I was too young, and recommended that I stay one more year. My parents must have been okay with that. But I remember that in the spring of the second K year, they asked me if I wanted to move back up to first grade. I was like, okay.

Suddenly going to another classroom was weird. I believe that I felt out of place, because I didn't know how they did anything, they were already set in their routines and I was clueless. For example, there was a class loom, and all the kids were on a list for when they would have a turn on it. Obviously, I never had a turn. And I think once we made donuts. Those were really yummy.

Second grade, I definitely remember spelling-related things. That's the year I decided to memorize the spelling of "chrysanthemum." I'm not sure why. In any case, to this day I can recite the letters, all quick-like. I also remember losing the class spelling bee to stupid Jorunn Grobey. I spelled the word "stomach" as "stamoch." I knew that it was kind of a funny word, and had both an "a" and "o" and just took a guess. Dang it. Jorunn was also the other fast girl in class. For some reason, the big thing at recess was to have races among the girls and boys, perhaps even between girls and boys. I believe that I was second-fastest among the girls. In fact, I think once I even beat Jorunn to win the temporary honor. Woohoo. Let's see. I remember that we had a lot of homework. I had a bright yellow plastic notebook binder that I recorded homework in. I think I did a report about dogs once. Oh, and when I was at home, I found a book I wrote in second grade, called My Dinosaur. It was short, sweet, and very weird. Here is what I wrote, punctuation and grammar and all:
"Dedicated to My whole family and MRS MOORE
"If I owned a dinosaur, at school I would pop him then shove him in my desk.
""I would feed him banana-berry and strawberry-cherry splits.
"I could take him to any movie any time.
"I would always take him to "Little Shop of Horrors," and he would like it!
"He would let me ride him on the way to school.
"He would be a magician. Like say I said "I want a thousand dollars" he would just clap his hands and there it would be!"

"About the author
"My name is Julie C. I am 7 yrs. old. I wrote this book because I like the movie Little Shop of Horrors."

Whee! Clearly I was a little short of attention span, and had strange ideas. The dinosaur was inflatable, a magician, and had hands. Okay, seven-year-old me.

Anyway. Third grade we learned to write cursive. I so wanted to be perfect at it. We also adopted an orca whale named Nugget, and as a big class project, made a life-size chicken-wire whale. When it was done, it hung from the ceiling by our room the rest of the year. That was cool. Ooh, and we had computers in the classroom for the first time! There was one Apple IIGS.

Fourth grade was long division, ugh. I struggled with that. And one time, the teacher asked a question about 5x5. I knew the answer, but my brain confused it with 5+5, so I said 'ten' instead of 'twenty-five.' I was very embarrassed.

Fifth grade, I began playing cello. We had rehearsal every day before school started. There was a big group project we did, called Pioneers. It was like a role-playing game version of The Oregon Trail. And there was a Commodore computer in the back of the room, that the boys always hogged. Harrumph. That was the year that Sinead O'Connor's Nothing Compares 2 U came out; I remember some girls discussing it in the cafeteria.

My school experience was unusual in that academically, I did well. Socially however, it was not so pretty. I had no friends at school. Interestingly, I had a whole host of them out of school, but no school chums. Especially fifth grade, I was totally alone. All the pictures of me from the class 'yearbook,' I'm by myself. Really quite depressing, looking back.

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