Out of the Picture

1511103_10201417300176609_481493363_n[1]My friend posted our first grade class photo on Facebook for fun, and I was reminded that I’m not actually in it.

I remember lots of things about grade one. I have a vivid memory of being very scared on the first day when the principal’s disembodied voice boomed over the intercom, asking each teacher to send a “runner” to the office.  I was scared because I had brand new sneakers– which at that time were commonly called “runners”– and I was afraid the teacher might choose to send one of my runners to the office and I would never see it again and however would I explain THAT to my mom when she came to pick me up?

I remember having a little-girl teacher crush on Miss Rempel, who was young and sweet and could do no wrong.

I remember the word LOOK printed on a card hanging over the big green chalkboard. The O’s had been drawn like eyes to help us remember what word those letters stood for. I remember learning to read — See Dick. See Jane. See Spot. LOOK. LOOK at Spot! I remember the magic that happened when the jumble of letters coalesced into words, words into sentences, sentences into stories.

I remember little half-scap slips of lined newsprint and carefully printed letters. I remember spelling tests and stickers. I remember lining up two by two to go to the gym.

And I also remember sitting on the sidelines when we got there. I remember that many mornings my mom dropped me off to start the school day with morning recess, because the stiffness in my knees was at its worst when I first woke up, but by 10:00 I would be loosened up enough to walk up the stairs to the classroom. I remember that back then getting driven to school was not the norm as it has become in many communities today, and that not walking home like the other kids was one more reason to feel set apart. I remember always being picked last for dodge ball teams, because everyone knew I couldn’t run and was therefore not an asset.

I remember that we were supposed to sit, cross-legged, on a cold tile floor for music time. I remember feeling very conflicted about music time — I loved to sing, but oh was I uncomfortable. The music teacher’s only concession to my Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis was to agree that I could sit in another position if I couldn’t manage cross-legged. In an era before anyone talked about disability accommodation, it didn’t seem to occur to her that sitting on that floor was never going to work for me regardless of my position.

But in spite of all the reasons I had to feel “out of the picture,” I remember falling in love with school. Maybe because grade one gave me reading and writing: two friends that have faithfully kept me company on the sidelines for many years when the rest of the world is busy playing dodge ball.


5 thoughts on “Out of the Picture

  1. Yes, I also have vivid memories of that class, Anna! So funny you mention the “runner” story, because one day, Miss Rempel picked me to run something to the office. I was terrified! I thought I’d get lost! I must have found my way back, though, because I also remember so many other things about the class 😉 And yes, walking home is one of those things. We’d walk not just to and from school, but also home for lunch every day, then back! Once, on an extremely cold day, I arrived home for lunch sobbing loudly, because my hands were so cold. Good ol’ Winnipeg!

    1. The principal’s office was in the “big” building and grade one was in the annex — so going to the office was a major expedition!
      I so desperately wanted to walk to and from school. By the time we reached junior high I insisted the my mom drop me off halfway down the lane so it wouldn’t be so obvious I was getting a ride. My kids grew up feeling hard-done-by if I didn’t drive them to school!

  2. Teresa

    I remember the first time I walked to school ‘on my own’. We lived only 2 1/2 blocks from the school, but I must have dawdled as I was still half a block away when the bell went. I panicked because I was going to be late, so I turned around, crying, and started to run home. After about 10 houses I realized that wasn’t going to solve anything, so I ran back to school. Luckily it had only been the warning bell (my little 5 year old self didn’t know there were such things) and I made it in time. Phew!

  3. Pingback: Muddy River Muse

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