(Now that Shep’s kindergarten story is completely posted, this is the first portion of the next story–when he gets to first grade.)
I’m reading in the newspaper that psychologists find that left-handers really are kookier, that there is a much higher percentage of nutty left-handers than there are nutty ordinary people, and there is a little pang of fear that runs through my mind when I read that because, when I was in first grade, I was a left-hander.
All the way through kindergarten there was no reason to be left or right-handed—all you did was pile blocks on blocks and throw sand in each other’s eyes. We didn’t go beyond quadratic equations in my kindergarten, so there wasn’t any reason to do much writing. But I’m a natural left-hander at that time—I just walk around and I scratch left-handed. I’m the only left-hander in my house. There I am, a little left-hander.
I had been in kindergarten, which was in a little building separate from the main school. It was what they call a “wooden portable,” a little building with a bunch of kids in there for kindergarten. And finally I am now about to go into the main McKinley School brick building.
The day dawns bright and clear, a beautiful, early September morn and I am out of kindergarten now, ready to begin this fantastic adventure of the big school. I arrive in first grade. One of the worst, unbelievable, rotten periods of my life came right at that beginning of school in first grade.
I’m all excited because this is the first time that I have a desk. I had seen pictures of kids in school and they always had desks, so I wanted one. In kindergarten we didn’t have a desk, we all just shared a common sandbox.
Here I have a desk. The mothers depart and we’re about to begin the first activity in the first grade. We’d been given a bunch of crayons and the first thing we were to do was to draw a picture. Up to this point I had been famous in my family as being a great drawer. “Gee, Jeanie is a great drawer,” so I’m sitting there drawing a butterfly, when our teacher, Miss Mead, who to my eye seemed to be about five-hundred years old, is walking up and down the aisles. She leans over my shoulder, reaches down, takes the crayon out of my left hand, and puts it in my right hand. She says, “Now, you’re supposed to draw with that hand.”
(More of this story to come.)