kindergarten

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I just remembered something. Telling stories is important. And writing. I mean real writing—not the stream of consciousness, Catcher of the Rye-style writing I’ve been doing. Real, recalled, well-written stories. So ima start writing stories. Because they help me remember things. And memories are precious.

Here’s one:

Kindergarten.

I didn’t like trying to spell words by sounding them out because I was afraid of getting them wrong. Ms. Alvarez always encouraged us to make an effort by ourselves before coming to see her, but I never did. Every time we were writing something and I didn’t know how to spell a word, I would walk up to my teacher’s desk and get her to spell it out for me. I didn’t want to try it for myself because I knew I would make a mistake.

I’ve always been a little like that—I’m not ready to try something on my own until I feel like I’ve mastered the material, and I’m quick to hand over a job to someone I feel is more qualified than I am. I don’t always trust my instincts.

So one day, out of either optimism or laziness, I decided to not go up to Ms. Alvarez’s desk and ask her for help, even though I didn’t know how to spell “pumpkin.” We were doing an activity and had to write down a word that we associated with fall. My plan was to wait and see if the boy next to me had chosen “pumpkin” as well and to copy the spelling he came up with. So I waited and watched him until he got to the part of the activity I was on. And when started sounding out how to spell “scarecrow,” it hit me that my plan was falling through. I was on my own.

So, flustered and disappointed by my failed attempt at kindergarten-style cheating, I tried to sound out “pumpkin” and put together a few letters as well as I could, and I went up to my teacher’s desk to turn in my activity. She looked over it, checked it, wrote a comment, and gave it back to me to take home. I had spelled “pumpkin” wrong; Ms. Alvarez wrote the correct spelling next to mine. But on the same page, she wrote her comment: Proud of Megan for trying!

And that made me pretty proud, too.

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