Friday, November 30, 2007

the case against child literacy

So I was in what basically amounts to my parent's attic today (people in Manhattan don't really have attics, but let's just call it that, for the sake of romantic imagery and V.C. Andrews creepiness), looking for this old train set that we used to have lying around. Cal has been on a renewed train kick lately, and I thought...well, whatever, I didn't find the trains, but I found something even better. In this old box, my mom had apparently saved a folder of many of my old essays from first grade. Some of them are even stamped for authenticity, with those old metal turn-wheel stamps that librarians used to use, and of which my first grade teacher (her name was Ms. Louis) was particularly fond. After cackling over these writings for a good ten or twenty minutes, I came to the conclusion that, if photographs from the era weren't proof enough, I was a deeply disturbing child.

But let's start light.

Um...OK. I can...kind of see your point there, young Michelle. This must have been some Halloween assignment. What is a teacher supposed to say to a "Halloween Story" like that? Must be why the page is blank.

Next up, what I presume to be a Thanksgiving story. Starts out promising.

OK, good, good. Turkey and kitten on the run! They don't have money, but they have each other! What will happen? Adoption by sympathetic child? A visit to the local animal shelter? Deus ex machina of some other variety?

Oh. (Crickets.)

Or how about this one? I'm guessing this was related to some Valentine's Day assignment, though really, a "Story of Love" (note: the "O" in love is a HEART! Which symbolizes LOVE!) like this needs no formal occasion.

She didn't say anything? Curious. Tell on.

Note the helpful illustrations. Now, the question that this essay brings up is: was there no means of referral for child psychiatry at my school? THERE'S A KILLER HIDING INSIDE A BLOW-UP DOLL! This is not normal childhood flight of fancy. This is...I don't know. Creepy.

But lest you think all I did was write stories wherein all the protagonists were indiscriminately (and some might say, "imaginatively") killed off, there are other writings too. As with this one, you can also see the bud that would eventually blossom into my medical career starting to peek out from between the lines.

Unfortunately, the second page appears to have been lost to the ages. Only one cure? What is it? YOU WILL HAVE TO WHAT?!  Do surgery?  Start imipenem?  Engage in ritual sacrifice of both My Melody and Deery Lou? I guess like the mystery of the lost colony at Roanoke, we will never know.

After reading through the stack of first grade essays (there are many, many more, but I presume that you are not interested in reading rhyming poems about bunnies or stories in which Smurfs visited us at our school) Joe said, "Well, that's it."

"What's it? These are kind of good though aren't they? I mean, kind of weird at points, but overall, not too bad, huh?"

"No, I mean that when Cal starts school and starts bringing home his writing, nothing will shock or disturb me anymore."


  1. I do not know how I ended up here after searching for Garden Salsa Sun-Chips, but I'm glad I did.

  2. wanted a love note, got more than i bargained for.... the story of love that thought caution. she may look like what you want but be careful, she may be your visa to leave where you want.