This covers time from 1990-1992, while I lived in Evanston, IL. During this time, I developed a more clear sense of self centered around fun, learning, and curiosity. We moved there in the year prior, and I had been attending preschool, but that's not like going to "school".
Up until that point in my life, regardless of some days spent at preschool, home was predominantly where "things" occurred. During this period, I believe it began to shift toward more 50-50, as the educational influences of teachers grew, and the social influences of friends increased.
These would also be the last years where I was an only child. Today, I have two younger brothers, born in 1992 and 1994. But at this point, it was all me. =).
Kindergarten (Age 5)
In the fall of 1990, my mom dropped me off at school for the first time. I'll never forget the first time I went up the steps of Willard Elementary and looked back at the massive yellow school buses still converging on the school's narrow circle drive; a whole line of cars with moms and dads saying bye to their kids, a number of them crying and obviously not wanting to leave; and the ugly green tiling that was set before me as it led into the school's slopping corridor. I was five, and off to a new school.
I ended up going to two different homerooms over the course of that year for reasons I may go into later, but I will say that if you didn't think teacher-child at that age matter, I will attest to you that you are wrong. The two classes were worlds apart, at least for me. Overall, my memory of Kindergarten was that it was awesome time, fun, and carefree. It felt exceptionally long but perhaps it was because it was such a new experience.
- I remember there was a long paper across the ceiling that counted up 1,2,3... the teacher added one for each day of school, and I remember marveling at how long the year had been when we reached the end.
- For one segment of the year, one enriching exercise we had was raising ducklings from eggs. The segment started with an incubator and 13 eggs, which we would learn how to manage.
- We churned butter at one point, and learned that the yellow coloring was typically artificial. Ours used carrot peels for coloration.
- I remember that kids would get a "hot" or "cold" lunch based on what their parents decided for them. This honestly shouldn't be a big deal, but somehow it was made to be a major segregation point for kids. Personally, I didn't have a strong preference for hot or cold, unless it was Thursday, because I had a penchant for the pizzas and chunky apple sauce they served that day. I believe the hot lunches cost $1.10 each. Reasonable for 1990.
- At school, I had a mix of male and female friends at this point--somewhat atypical, but I found that it led to more interesting experiences, and better strategic alliances. My closest friends were probably my neighbors in our apartment that my family knew at the time, but I also enjoyed time to myself to read or do stuff.
First Grade (Age 6) (WIP)
- Willard memories -- Air-conditioning -- Mrs. B -- Halloween; skeleton, or was that second-grade? -- Walk-a-thon -- Scholastic books -- Sim-Ant? --
- Home memories -- Inha born -- May cat? Did I still have May? -- Air-conditioning -- Evanston biking
Second Grade (Age 7) (WIP)
- Willard memories -- Writing cursive -- Ms. H -- Drama teacher theme --
- Home life -- Ghostwriter -- Carmen Sandiego
This stage of my life, home was actually rather awesome, at least in my memory. We lived in a modest 2 bedroom apartment in on Michigan Ave, a few blocks from the beach. I had my own room, a twin sized bed, which I still remember my dad putting together from wood pieces.
We went on a trip to Korea that winter, the first time I ever that I remember being on a plane (the first few, I was too young). Oddly enough, I don't remember too much about this trip in terms of what we did. I *do* remember a lot about the people I met; the family that I connected with for the first time in a while.
On returning, I was severely jet lagged and missed a week of school. Fortunately, being kindergarten, I didn't have any homework to make up. =P
I started getting pets at this point in my life. The first were a set of 4 gold fish in a 10 gallon tank. It was here that I realized that having an aquarium is really cool, but the regular cleaning necessary to maintain one is a pain in the ass. I never got around to naming these fish; but I did learn to tell them apart. There were two gold ones, a white one, and a black one.
In the spring, coming back from a field trip where my mom was a chaperon, I was able to score a kitten from a litter they were giving away! I had never really interacted with cats before but I was fascinated by their playful hunter-like skills. We took one home, and named it May. Graceful, sneaky, fun-loving affectionate human companions, I've loved cats ever since.
Later on, after meeting some behavioral goals (cleaning my room, brushing my teeth, doing chores, behaving in school, etc...), a pivotal life event happened: I got a Nintendo (NES)! I'm not sure what persuaded them to do so, since I don't recall asking for one or expressing interest in it. Though, looking back, I suspect it might be because I played a game while I was in Korea that I enjoyed (?) Regardless, I picked up the controller that day, and in a single 11 hour sitting, finished the first Super Mario Bros (I mean... you had to--there was no way to save!). A gamer was born that day, and he lives still =).
- My parents getting niceties, like a worklamp for my dad's workstation, air-conditioning for the home, etc...
- Two of the four gold fish ended up dying, one from unknown causes--another, seemed to have jumped to its death on its own by leaping onto the living room floor. We got a glass top after that.
- I had a big map on the wall by my bed, which I would explore frequently, always being surprised at noticing something I had never seen before. I remember that it definitely had the "USSR" on there. Speaking of which...
- The News isn't something that I remember much from this part of my life, except one event that had my dad and grandmother transfixed on the TV--the news that the Soviet Union was being dissolved. This of course, was a major part of their, and my personal history, through the Korean War, and this news, as I'm sure it was across the US, was profoundly unexpected. To me as a child, I didn't know of it's significance, but I do remember going to that map that night and making note that something had changed.
- I had a few toys at that point; I remember most treasuring my Hotwheels and related cars that I had gotten from a previous Christmas.
- I started actively liking Disney movies. My favorite at the time was actually The Little Mermaid, largely due to my love of the ocean, and admiration of independent individuals that break their mold. The catchy music I enjoyed, too.
- I learned to ride a bike, and spent a lot of time in years since riding around Evanston alone, with friends, and with my dad.
- I loved water, any chance we got to go to a pool I'd want to go swimming. Seeing this interest, my parents enrolled me in swimming classes, which I helped greatly, even though they weren't as fun.
- I picked up violin at this point, though having been forced to enroll with this very strict teacher, I wasn't too thrilled at the time. It was very meaningful though, and even though I don't play now, I have an appreciation for what regular people are musically capable of when they work at mastery. I kind of wish I kept it up...
- My parents independently enrolled me in figure skating skating classes with a friend. Don't get me wrong, "girly" as it might have seemed, I LOVED the ice. In terms of maneuverability, it's hard to beat figure skates, though some fine hockey skates come close. I did speed skating later on in life, but going around in circles just isn't as fun as doing "whatever you want" on figure skates.
- I also ended up doing gymnastics for a short period of time. It was fun, though the classes weren't quite as appealing.
- There used to be a HUGE slide in the back of our apartment in a common playground. It was awesome, but scary. It has since been removed, and replaced with something safer. (Kids these days...)