As with most five year olds, this was the year I started school. I went to one of the town's elementary schools that was within walking distance of our home. It was a nice school of an adequate size. I remember the entry way to the school being lined with people my size in rules of organization I did not understand. Rubber boots littered the hallway and coloured paper was stuck to every wall. I am sure the days were full of learning and fun. But I remember sitting on a red carpet and being made to feel weird that I could count to 100 and read by myself.
Me in my "first day of school" dress.
It became a tradition that all of us wore the same dress on our first day of Kindergarten.
Well, except Grae. It just wasn't "pretty" enough.
When I was five, my world was very small. I had my family -- mom, dad, siblings. I had a few friends in the neighbourhood and a church we drove an hour to each week. It was the days of simplicity. Parents opened their doors and allowed their children out to play without every worrying what dangers were lurking. In my world, there was only one girl in the bay behind our house that I was not allowed to play with.
Her name was Kelly. She was 7 and got "into trouble" a lot. I don't know what "trouble" means to a 7 year old, but to me I assumed she didn't listen and had a lot of tantrums. She had blond hair in a flippy ponytail. She said bad words like "damn" and "hell". She was someone I wasn't supposed to spend time with, so of course, I did.
The gang of three. Me, Grae and
our pet orangutan Ky.
One day, Kelly and Jennifer and I found a bird with a broken wing. It was a chickadee, or at least in my mind now, it was a chickadee. It hopped around pathetically in fear and frustration. We were small and it never dawned on us that things might get broken and die. We gathered a box with soft leaves and grass in it and gently placed the baby bird in the middle. It was close to supper so Jennifer and I both were called away to our respective homes. Kelly didn't have anyone who called her, so she sat on the steps with the bird in her lap and she cried.
I don't know what happened to that bird. Or to Kelly for that matter. But in my head, she is still a little girl sitting on that step with the grief of an adult in her heart.