In Judy Blume’s Masterclass, this assignment reads:
Judy advises that you reinhabit your childhood. One vivid way
to do this is to remember being in school. For example, put
yourself back in your third grade classroom. Try to remember
your teacher, the students around you, and what you did in a
specific moment. Focus on the details. If you’re not able
to conjure up your own memories, visit a school (with
permission) and observe the environment. Write up a page or
two of memories or observations from your school experiences
and share them in The Hub. Maybe you will spark an idea
from your school days or see something in someone else’s
recollection that speaks to you.
I decided to write a fictitious account of my elementary school based on one memory I have during that era of my life. The people are real and the song is very real. Here is my third-grade self telling a little story about Cinco De Mayo::::
Today is Cinco De Mayo, the fifth of May and we are going to have an assembly if it does not rain. We have been practicing our song all month. I am excited about performing it in front of everyone at our school.
I feel too excited to sit still at the long table that sits closest to the door. Next to me is my best friend, Julie, and across the table are Mohammad, Shehab, and Damon. We started elementary school together in the first grade with another twenty kids. In first grade, they picked five of the smartest kids in our class to go into a second-grade classroom. In second grade, the five of us had a third-grade teacher and we shared a room with the third graders.
Now, we are in third grade and are sitting in the fourth-grade classroom. The fourth graders do not understand the excitement I feel today, and the teacher has told me too many times to sit still and pay attention. It is hard to pay attention to things that are not important like spelling words when my mind is filled with the words to this fun song.
Cinco De Mayo is holiday time. Holiday time in Mexico.
I look at the clock. It is only nine o’clock. When both hands on the clock go straight up to the number twelve, that is when we will leave the classroom and line up for our song. We get to skip an hour of class to get into our outfits before the show. That is always fun to miss school and not get in trouble for it.
My teacher writes on the board today’s words. We copy them on our paper and must write them in cursive on the lined paper she gave us. I hate cursive because my loops are not as pretty as Julie’s. Ms. Hicks gives me bad grades on cursive. I do not even try to make my loops pretty because I cannot think about loops.
Cinco De Mayo is holiday time. To the fiesta we go-go-go.
My head turns to the door as I hear thunder outside. Normally, I would be afraid of the noise but not today. It just makes me a little sad because when you hear thunder it usually has rain with it. If it rains, we might not be able to sing our song and dress in the Mexican hats. I learned last week that in Spanish, a hat is called a sombrero. And the fiesta is a party.
“Kids, eyes up front.” Ms. Hicks says because everyone at my table looked at the door. After all, the thunder was so loud that it broke through the door.
Everyone except me turned their attention back to the chalkboard. I stare door still. I wonder if my mom will be mad if she misses work for the program and they cancel it because of the rain.
Sha-la-la-la-la. Go Go Go!
The bell rings and we are excused to go on the playground for a break. It is only a short one before lunch and before it gets hot outside. Our afternoon break is sometimes too hot, and we sit in the shade and do nothing.
When I run outside, I am happy to see that the ground was still dry. No rain yet. We still have a chance. Julie runs out in front of me and I catch up to her. We make it to the swings before anyone else. Everyone likes the swings. You would think the school would pay for everyone to have their own swing. If everyone had their own swing, I would not have to run to get one of the empty ones. Mine would be there waiting for me; even though my teacher says running is good for me.
Julie and I swing next to each other. We always try to see who can go the highest. I just want to get high so I can jump off. That is the difference between us. She just swings and I want to jump off them as Damon does. He always gets high up; one day he will go so high that he will go completely around and fly upside down. That would be cool.
The bell rings and I jump off the swing and land on my knees. I do not cry but it did hurt. As everyone is running back to class, the rain starts. I stop running and stand in the middle of the blacktop. It cannot be raining. Now they will not have the program.
Everyone is inside except me because I am so mad that it is raining. My arms are crossed in front of me, and my bottom lip is puffed out.
The teacher hollers at me. “Come inside, now.” When I do not move, the teacher runs out in the rain and grabs my arm. She drags me in while saying, “Stop this little attitude of yours.”
Nothing I can do but start crying. The fourth graders laugh as I am put in the corner of the room because I told the teacher outside that she needed to stop her attitude. She did not seem to like that. Well, I did not like it either. She does not understand that my mom is losing time from work for the program and the rain is going to cancel it. My mom never misses work unless it is something important because it is only me and her and we do not have a lot of money.
I wanted my mom to see my show so badly that she stayed home today so she could come to my lunchtime program, which looked like they would cancel it. Rain is so stupid. I do not even know why we need rain. It just makes everything all wet, and we must wear those stupid yellow jackets. My arms are still crossed in front of my chest as I sat Indian-style in the corner.
Cinco De Mayo is holiday time. Holiday time in Mexico.
When the little hand landed on the eleven, the door to the classroom opened. Mr. Golden called my name, as well as Julie, Mohammad, Damon, and Shehab. I jumped up from the corner of the room where I sat. It was time. It must have stopped raining. This excitement is making my stomach butterflies go crazy.
When I step outside, the rain is pouring down. Mr. Golden tells us to go next door. All five of us run with him to room number 3. We were in room 5. We all got wet even though we did run as fast as we could. The other third graders, who were not as smart as the elite five, were in the room. They were already dressed in their Mexican sombreros and panchos. We get dressed to match them.
After we get dressed, I ask Mr. Golden, “Are we going to put on the show if it’s raining?”
He says, “We moved the show into the cafeteria. We will perform while everyone eats.”
“And are parents?” I ask.
“They will be in the cafeteria with us.”
Julie and I jump up and down together because we know my mom and her mom will sit next to each other. After about an hour of butterflies, both hands of the clock are straight up. It is time. We make a single file line and walk slowly out of the room and into the cafeteria. As soon as we enter, the music starts. We sing our song in our classic Mexican hats and jackets. We dance and I try not to mess up the steps while I look for my mom in the audience. She is in the back of the room standing next to Julie’s mom. I smile and sing as loud as I can.
Cinco De Mayo is holiday time. Holiday in Mexico. Cinco De Mayo is holiday time. To the fiesta we go-go-go. Sha-la-la-la-la. Go Go Go.