Monday, April 12, 2010

Back to Basics

I hated second grade. I can remember far too much of it.

I didn't understand subtraction. My teacher knew I struggled, and still... she called me to the board.

There was an outbreak of lice, and because I was different than the other girls, smaller, younger, stranger, a rumor surfaced that I'd had it first. Which wasn't true and shouldn't have mattered even if it was.

The injustices of that year seemed endless.

  • Another student hit me in the head with a tin lunch box. Scooby Doo.
  • While waiting for my mother to pick me up from school I hit my knee on a metal bar, (Okay, so it was my fault. I mean... we weren't supposed to do the criss cross thing with the swings. You remember, the one where you twist the swings together and you unspin at the speed of light?) The nurse poured peroxide on the cut which would have been FINE if I hadn't just had surgery meaning the cut was really split stitches. Yeah.
  • I joined a group of kids taunting another kid for wearing glasses. I wanted so much to belong that I sang that awful song "Two four six eight who do we appreciate? Four eyes, four eyes FOURRRRRR eyes!" And then? Got glasses.
My mom figured it all out and I stayed back. I got to do the whole year over again at another school. A nicer place where we learned all about the ocean and I won a prize for my tugboat haiku.

Tugboat helping out
Tugboats float in the harbor
Pulling boats ashore

And we made cranberry orange relish for thanksgiving. It was GREAT. (Bitter, but fun)

The truth is, the first horrible year of second grade wasn't a total wash.

You see...we did the most amazing art project. We drew a picture in crayon (Brighter the better, brighter the better) and then covered it with black crayon and then scratched out designs with a toothpick revealing the brilliance underneath.

And if I'd never done that project, I wouldn't have understood dark and light. So I'm so happy that I had the experience, no matter how hard it was.

How about you? Would you go back and change the bad parts? Or do they help you to better understand the good?

*speaking of GOOD.... all you writers out there head over to Sarah W.'s site to enter the most amazing contest ever. You won't be sorry.


  1. Oh goodness. That is such a great question!
    Fifth grade was awfully hard for me. Maybe 4th grade as well. I think that I am going to write about that on my own blog, since I was prepared to write a tome here. I will link back to you if you don't mind. Not sure what I clicked on to find you (although the name of your blog was certainly the appealing factor), but I am so glad I did!
    Enjoy the day!

  2. I dont know,, what I do know is...scratching the surface can reveal brilliance...

  3. Erin: Welcome! So glad you found me. Link away.
    Glen: yep <3

  4. I don't think I'd go back for any amount of money. Unless I could go back with the knowledge and wisdom I have now. Then, maybe. I envy your ability to recall such detail from so young an age. My childhood is somewhat of a blur, except for traumatic incidents that did some heavy duty damage.

  5. Karen: I spent time the other day reading your essays. What an honor. Really. And it's one of those philosophical things... It should never have happened to you. None of it. But would I know you or be able to learn from you (you are always an inspiration to me) if you didn't write?

    Questions, questions. Always.. right? LOVE to you.

  6. Awesome post. It brings back bad memories of my last few years of elementary school. People were mostly nice to me, but you always remember the little not-so-nice things. A girl that is now my sister's best friend always used to step on the back of my shoes and laugh at me while I kept my head down and tried not to cry. I mean, I should have just turned around and been all, "Um, that's foot." But I didn't. I cried and told my older sister....who promptly became her best friend.
    She's nice to me now. ;)

  7. All the bad is a part of what I am today, so no way would I go back and change it.

  8. I did that art project too. I loved it. Second grade was hard for me as I had just moved to a new city. I did stand up for a boy who was being teased after having a brain tumor removed. Would I change anything, there are a lot of things I would like to change, more about myself though.

  9. Sarah: I'm glad. Wish you were MY sister.
    Susan: I'm with you.
    Ann: Sometimes I wonder about who I would have been... kinder? Less creative? More? Interesting. Makes me want to watch LOST. OH! It's on tomorrow. Goody.

  10. Oh man. I might have to do my own blog post on this. After first grade, my parents as a matter of habit, moved us from the Catholic School we knew, to the public school we didn't. I believe they informed me of this about a week before school started. The first time I fell and cut my knee on the playground I didn't know what to do. I had never heard of a school nurse. I was good (then) at math, but they did it differently. I learned to write sums horizontally. What was this vertical junk? We had gym twice a week (new to me) and I kept forgetting my sneakers. The third time I forgot them I cried BEFORE I got to the teacher's desk to tell her, and she sent me to the nurses office thinking I was sick. The nurse shook her last mercury thermometer, and it slipped out of her hand before she could take my temp so she sent me home anyway. My mother handed me my sneakers and sent me back. Ugh, Ugh, Ugh. Glad you did better the second time around. I just got really shy and stayed that way for a huge portion of my life.

  11. Oh, goodness, came over through Tresori Trovati's suggestion, and she did not exagerrate! Your writing pulls me in right from the start.

    Totally engaging. I am your newest follower. Thank you for putting this out there, it inspires me. I always wonder, do people want to read this, or is it just quick humor they want? I love this, so maybe there is an audience out there???e

  12. Boy, did you say it right. Brilliance behind the dark. I frequently say that you couldn't pay me enough money to go back to those days--even if I could fix the things I didn't like, it wouldn't be worth it just to have to live through it.

  13. I would never go back, never. Content with moving forward, that's me. :)

  14. I don't even remember anything until I repeated third grade. Except that I was always younger and smaller and always in trouble.
    During my second third grade I magically became one of the smartest and most responsible. I got 100% on all of my spelling tests that year!

  15. My earlier years of school were hard, too. Bookworms aren't accepted anywhere and I was quiet and bespectacled and over-bookwormy. But I kept on being me and in time I also learned about dark and bright :)

  16. Even I was bookworm-y, Julie. And no, I didn't fit in either. My meanie-bobeenie teacher Ms. Kennedy (I still remember vividly her appearance!) gave me an infraction repeatedly for the TINIEST of things! At first I thought she was racist again Muslims, but I suppose I can't really be too sure about that.
    I probably would never go back. Nah.