Here are my dominant memories of first grade:
1) I got chicken pox and stayed home from school for a week. It got a little long, that week of lolling around, scratching myself, but then my mom set a Mason jar of buttons next to me (which her mom had collected for decades), and suddenly the week had rattles and texture in addition to itching and scabs. Ha! That reminds me: when the first chicken pock erupted, my mom was certain her 6-year-old had a zit, so she popped it. To this day, I have a scar at the top of my nose, right between my eyes. Good thing I’m blind as Ray Charles in a ninja costume at midnight on the winter solstice in the Arctic Circle and, thus, have to wear glasses, the frames of which cover up the scar that my mother, in her crazy need to squeeze any blemish within arm’s length, inflicted upon me;
2) My first grade teacher, Mrs. Bulger, was a fearsome thing. Then she got cancer in her arm and went away for a few weeks, and when she came back, she only had one arm. Note to Spielberg: if you ever want to produce a horror film for 6-year-olds, have it be one in which their teacher goes away and comes back less one arm plus a belly full of pain and rage.
Actually, as an adult, I feel nothing but agony for Mrs. Bulger. I cannot imagine how awful that year was for her, and she had every right to become even more cantankerous;
3) However, she had no right to call my mom and schedule a meeting about the fact that I liked to carry, um, about 62 pencils to school everyday in my lunchbox. I even had a huge, thick one with a plastic White House where the eraser belonged, and I’d used it up enough that it would actually fit diagonally into my lunch box, along with all sorts of other really cool pencils with groovy erasers. That I had such a collection with me each day seemed fitting in an “open” school–one with no walls (it was the ’70s); that I had a teacher who got mad at me for bringing a far out collection of pencils to school everyday and who went so far as to call in my mom and put the kibosh on all extraneous pencil carrying…well, that was just Old School, one-armed or not.
So there you have it: my best recollections of being six. Naturally, I have no idea what memories my kids will retain of their early years (probably Mommy being really tired, and then Mommy sleeping a lot), but if I had my way, I’d always like for Paco to remember the Day He Assaulted Vegetables.
Warning: this video is thin on plot but rich in character development and cultural insight. Plus, anytime your narrator sounds like she’s on the verge of expiring of TB, you have to wonder about her reliability as a conveyor of point of view–and that right there is damn intriguing, inn’t, Gentle Watcher?
Oh yea, and then there’s the sunflower at the end, used both as aggressor and instrument of denouement. I know.
You. can. HARDLY. wait.