Elementary | Teen Ink


January 13, 2022
By Anonymous

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday it was pompoms. Thursday and Friday it was levitating bright red spikes of yarn. My mother used to style my hair in the non-typical American way sometime when I was younger for school. I was born in Washington DC but I quickly moved to North Carolina when I was only 9 months old. I remember playing with Nancy, an old woman that lived next door when I was younger since my siblings were off to school, or sitting in the vet store building that was one hop across from our house waiting for my parents to come back from running errands. I enjoyed being at home so much, I didn't like going to the store or doctor appointments. My house was baby pink with a pool, hot tub and trampoline located behind it but I would spend most of my time in the smaller pink house next to it, a play house full of toys and a huge tv that was originally intended to be a guest house or an accessory dwelling unit. All of that quickly ended when It was my turn to start school. 

I was 5 and it was my first day at Gatesville. Now I don’t remember much about preschool but I do remember a few things.. one is that I cried when my father dropped me off. I cried so hard Mrs. Murphy, our Teacher, had to take me out of the classroom and give me snacks to cool down. And after I was done crying I cried again. And again and so on. Till it was the end of my first day of school and my dad came. Once I got home I practically forgot about my school day and all my emotions were at hold. Until the next day. This crying continued for the next few days because I was unfamiliar with my surroundings and didn’t like staying at school for so long. In Preschool we had a simple schedule of Eating, Coloring, and Sleeping. Time passed by quickly and soon I was in 1st grade. 

My school followed a holiday tradition: each grade was assigned a song which they had to memorize and perform a few days before Christmas break. I remember a fake santa coming in during our performances. I think we were assigned “Up on the HouseTop” but it doesn't matter. I always mumbled the words with the rhythm I memorized. In first grade I had my first singing performance. I remember the rehearsals we would have before recess and I was so excited to perform when I heard our parents were coming. Unfortunately I did not get to do that. A few minutes before the stage (gosh this is so embarrassing) I pooped my pants because I was so nervous. The teacher found out before I did and I had to leave the line. I was devastated. 

Only in 2nd grade did I actually realize I was the only black girl in my grade. There was one other black boy but I didn't have him in my class until the next year. 3rd Grade. That's when my culture and practices started to be a problem. I lived in a bilingual household, so for me that meant having conversations with my friends in franc-anglais (french and english) followed by a heavy southern accent. I was barely understood but that wasn’t even one of my concerns. The kids at my school would eat donuts for lunch and pizza while I had a Lunch-Box better said a 

Lunch-Plastic Grocery Bag with heavily scented cultural food in it. The kids kept complaining about it or other times when I didn’t fit in with the bunch was my hairstyles. It was either in little tight pom poms that kids kept pressing on or in Yarn that was so tight that my thoughts were tense for the first few days I had them on. Days flew by and of course the craziest things happened like the girl who crawled under my stall while I was using the bathroom or the super cool halloween parties. 

None of my experiences added up to my encounter near the end of 3rd grade, my last year in Gatesville, North carolina. My math class just finished and it was time for recess. Recess was regular for the first few minutes. I played kickball with my friends then I hit the swing but when we were supposed to be heading inside a vicious white dog started chasing me. Mackenzies dog. Now at this point of the story you will receive very little description because I too didn't know what I was thinking. The teacher told me to stop running “It's just trying to play with you!” Nope. I wasn’t taking that risk. I ran for my life in circles around the playground crying for my mom and all the kids were standing near the picnic table laughing. I thought I was going to die until the teacher picked up the dog tailing me. From there I just fell down, caught relief and broke down crying as she walked me back into class. It was scary for me at the time like a nightmare. And the same minute the kids started this trend called the “Dog touch” and they would basically say they petted the dog and they would try to touch me. Followed by the random barking in class, my week was stressful and nerve wracking. A few more field trips and 3rd Grade was over. 

I found myself at home with my siblings deciding if we should stay in North Carolina or move to Maryland for my fathers job opportunity. Of course I loved the Vet, Busch Gardens and our Festivals but I wanted to see outside of North Carolina. We decided to move to Maryland, that was the end of my chapter with Gatesville Elementary School. Through the ups and downs Gatesville Elementary School gave me a remarkable childhood.

The author's comments:

This piece consist of core memories from my childhood.

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