Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved school and wanted to be a teacher, but I’ve marked time by school year for as long as I can remember. I first saw this done on one of my favorite blogs, Holly Burns’ Nothing But Bonfires and this concept is also mentioned in incredible Maggie Mason’s No One Cares What You Had For Lunch.
Preschool, Part I: Fremont, California
In the mornings, my dad wakes me up early and carries me over his shoulders into my parents room, where my mom is usually applying makeup or sitting under a hair dryer. He always wraps me up in my tiny patchwork quilt, hands me Pink Bear, and throws me over his shoulders calling, “I found a sack of potatoes for you…” My mom always smells good, and her skin is soft. I love this quiet time.
When I am dropped off each morning, there are two windows that my parents MUST drive by and wave and blow me a kiss. I do not cry when they leave, unless they forget this important step. Each of them forgets only once, and I watch their tail lights switch from red to white as they reverse to wave even more profusely than normal. Although I like school, I am never quite relaxed. I play with books and blocks and art supplies, and sing songs about Jesus. I don’t nap. Instead, I lay on my mat, suck my right thumb with the index finger folded over it, and count the minutes until my parents will come get me. Things are good when we are at home. I have a yellow room, with brown carpet. Some nights, we eat fish and chips and watch The Facts of Life.
I have one friend, and her name is Betty. Betty is Asian and looks nothing like me, a blonde, blue-eyed girl. We play on the swings and in the outdoor playhouse. One time, we decide to go to the bathroom outside near the playhouse. The principal calls us in and my mom comes to get me, wearing a grey sweater with a big pink star on it. I am sad to be in trouble, but happy to see my mom.
A few months later, my teacher takes me shopping. I get in her car, and put on my seatbelt with the top part going over my chest. She fixes it so it’s behind me, and I insist that my mom makes me wear it the other way. She persists, so I leave it, but I am scared the whole time. We get to the store, and she tells me I can pick out an outfit for my new baby brother. “But I’m having a sister!” I tell her. She laughs at this. I keep picking out dresses, until finally, she yanks a blue outfit from the racks and buys it.
When I return, another teacher gives me a knitted outfit to take home to my brother, too. I am confused. When my mom tells me that yes, I am having a baby brother, I tell her I’ll put him in the microwave. Somehow, in my little brain, that will make him a girl.
We are cleaning up after dinner when my mom hunches over and says, “My water broke!” I am happy, because I get to spend the night at my best friend Ann-Marie’s house. The next day, her mom, Deanne, shows me a picture of a little bundle. I am instantly smitten. I skip the Valentine’s Day party at my school so I can go meet my new baby brother. I’ve never loved anything so much before.