The piano. Ugh. Bleh. And double yuck.
I resented that piano with it’s massive size. I resented its placement in the room. I resented being tucked away behind it where no one could see me. Or more importantly where no one, especially Mrs. Baker, could hear me.
I’m sure first grade consisted of more than sitting behind the piano, but that’s all I really remember. Anytime I talked at all in class, I got put behind the piano so I couldn’t distract the other students. As soon as I was released from that isolation someone would say something to me and I would respond, “Shh, don’t get me in trouble.” And next thing I knew, I was back behind the piano. Mrs. Baker only had ears for my voice. I admit, I talked a lot. But I was bored a lot. And I’m an only child with a mother who, at that time, was earning her bachelor’s degree in business. We didn’t really have a lot of time to talk and when we did, they weren’t usually little kid conversations. I was hungry for socializing.
As I was remembering first grade with my mom this week, I told her I could already see my future as a parent in parent-teacher conferences. I’m sure teachers will tell me that Sammi is a smart girl who gets her work done quickly, but she talks too much and distracts the other children from doing their work. My mom chuckled since this is exactly what every single one of my report cards from elementary school through middle school says. But her response to my teachers was that I was an only child who thrived on social interactions. She could see how this gift would help me as I went to college and needed to form study groups and succeed in my classes. And for that reason, she didn’t see it as a character flaw to be squashed out of me, but rather a talent to be put to good use. Aren’t moms the best!
As I’ve spent a little more time thinking about first grade, I do remember participating in the first grade “play” where I was a ladybug with my best friend Cara. My hair was pulled back tight in a bun and I wore a black leotard with huge red pom poms sewn on the back. It’s one of my favorite pictures from first grade. Too bad it’s in Tennessee and I’m in Utah. I’ll have to add it later.
Mrs. Baker always made mugs for her students. They were designed to look like denim jeans and each one had a student’s name written on the label of the jeans. I spent the last few months of the school year worried that she wouldn’t make me one because she didn’t like me. But, she was a better teacher than that! I did get my mug with my name on it and I cherished it for many years even though I didn’t really like first grade at all. But I managed to learned everything required to move on to second grade, which was a happy, happy day for me!