I’m in the middle, twenty-four children surround me, I am wearing a red plaid dress, my hair is disheveled and I have a crooked smile. A mouth filled with small porcelain teeth, a fake smile shining back at the camera. A girl next to me is completely turned sideways, staring straight at me, with an overdone, powerful smile. A ridiculous confetti bow is attached to the top of her head and she wears a black dress, covered in colorful polka dots with a bright yellow collar. The other children wear similar things, typical ninety’s fashion, wild colored jogging suits with an assortment of shapes and stripes. The worst dressed award goes to my teacher; she has a female afro, using a can of hairspray to get it looking “perfect”. She’s not an attractive older woman, with sky blue eye shadow and a goal post in her mouth and flared nostrils. She is wearing a shirt in turquoise, pink and yellow, in an almost argyle design. On the floor, there is a black plastic sign that says in white lettering “William Floyd Kindergarten School, October 1992”.
When I think back on the memories of the first year, they all seem to blend together. Ugly cartoon flowers of blue, pink and yellow decorated my shorts and shirt. A fluorescent orange clip held my thick wavy hair together. There was a crisp piece of paper with my name on it, pinned to my chest. My Barbie lunchbox was tight in my tiny hand, as my mom walked me down the road. At the end of my block, there were two girls my age, waiting patient for the bus. Soon a big yellow monster roared and pushed itself from around the corner. It came to a slow stop, but the tears started to stream down my cheeks. I was so attached to my mother, I didn’t have many friends and I spent all my time with her. I looked over to her and we were both crying. I sat in the first seat by myself, wiping my tears away; my friendly overweight bus driver comforted me. We finally arrived; I walked by myself towards, the pale blue portable, it didn’t have a very welcoming appearance. Being at the age of five, I did find my classroom with ease, the rooms didn’t have numbers; my room was the “green circle”. It was a medium sized room filled with children, some who smelled liked they haven’t taken a bath in a week, some with lice biting at their scalps, or their skin was filled with itchy red spots. There were two low tables, surrounded by chairs made for dwarfs. Cubbies to the left were my lunchbox was kept, to the right, we sat on a firm gray rug, singing songs, but I remember I was silent and spacing out, losing grip on reality. Against the wall, there was a sandbox that stood up on four tall legs; it was filled with different tops. I was in awe of it and at playtime there were different play stations set up. I never had enough guts to go over and play, when the other children were filling up their dump trucks with the perfect powdery sand. I was very shy as a child and I still am, but I never participated in anything, I didn’t have much self-confidence either. I didn’t talk to anyone except for a girl named Samatha. We had this secret book, I don’t know why but she called it the “Pee Pee book”. It was very colorful book with different cut out holes, leading to the next. I would always laugh when she would say it and show it to me. We did many things during the three hours we were there, finger painting, making a craft for a parent for the upcoming holiday, singing songs like “I like Mud” and “Down by the Bay”. I hated most of all was writing in our journals and then drawing a picture of what we just wrote. I don’t know why I hated it, but I remember feeling a sense of anxiety and dread when will be the next time we would write. Then it would be snack time, I can still remember the smell from the plastic lunchbox and the apple juice that leaked out of the Barbie canister and damping my plain white napkin. My chubby fingers opened the neatly package peanut butter and jelly sandwich, covered in aluminum foil. Other children with lunchboxes and cardboard grape juice boxes and chocolate chip cookies surrounded me. One time my teacher made us green eggs in class, of course it was inspired by the great Dr.Seuss, I couldn’t believe I liked it and that it actually tasted the same. We didn’t have a naptime but sometimes we were allowed to play outside, on a pitiful three-piece playground. I never liked recess but there was a sense of freedom when being outside, like being released from a cage. I also enjoyed this octagonal bar contraption that I hang upside down on and climb to the top of it. Then at twelve, we piled onto our buses that gathered in front of the school. My bus was known as Woodstock, the Peanuts character and among the bunch, there was Cookie Monster, Bert, Charlie Brown, this made it easier for children to remember and find their bus after a long day. I was so happy when I was finally dropped at my bus stop, but when I would walk home, my neighbor’s young daughter, would hang from their wooden fence and stick her tongue at me when I passed.
I didn’t like kindergarten and a couple of grades that follow; I would rather be alone playing with my Barbies than at school learning with the other children.