Writing Assignment: Third Grade Classroom Day

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.

Book 11: Blubber by Judy Blume

Next up on my reading challenger and my homework for Judy Blume’s MasterClass is the book Blubber. Originally written in 1974, not much has changed in the world of kids. Bullying is just as problematic now than it was in the 70’s. Elisabeth told me that I would probably enjoy this book because of how I grew up.

I don’t know a kid growing up that wasn’t bullied in some way, or was the bully themselves. I don’t think it really hit me until junior high. I remember wearing the same neon green sweatshirt as a pretty girl in my class. Someone said to her, look you guys are twins. She replied something to the effect that the difference was that mine was the size of a tent.

Sometimes, I think bullying is caused by the things you do. Maybe if I had not stood up in front of the entire junior high and dance a one-man Menudo concert (not once, but twice), I might not have been that easy of a target.

The book Blubber talks completely about bullying and how even the one’s who stand up get the tables turned on them. It’s easy to see why kids don’t want to stand up for others and how easy it is to fall into peer pressure. Don’t know if this is recommended reading in schools today, but it should be.

Blume tells the tale without preaching and that was her main goal with writing this book. She let the tables turn even though it was wrong just so that kids realize that everything you do has consequences. The consequence of teasing Linda was the teasing turned to her.

A Letter From My Childhood Self

My first writing assignment on Judy Blume’s MasterClass is a Letter From My Childhood Self. The rules read as follows: Write a letter as your childhood self. It’s up to you who you want to write to—your adult self or someone else in your life. Let them know what you care about, what scares you, and what you yearn for.

Soooo… here I go.

Dear My Adult Self,

Oh my god. I have to tell you about something that has changed my life. Maybe in the future, this will be trivial because I don’t know when you will read this and what will have happened over the course of your life. I am sure that this moment will have an impact that will shape your entire life. I know it will.

It was Sunday and I’m watching that variety show on television with all the Mexican performers. I’m sitting with my fingers on the VHS’s record button waiting for the old man in glasses to yell out the words MENUDO. Again, he doesn’t say that. He said something else that I don’t know because I don’t speak Spanish. And that was when our life changed. I know it did because I felt it in the pit of my stomach when those four girls showed up on stage.

The first one sang, she had brown curly hair and sounded sweet. The next girl sang. She had a deeper voice; not as cute and sorta of ordinary. After those two verses, all four girls sang and danced the chorus. I pressed the record button. I need to save this on my VHS tape to watch over and over.

The music slowed down and the third girl sang. She had long blond hair with her tinted pink bangs hanging down. And then the fourth girl stepped forward. That was the moment my life changed. I can still remember everything about her. Her shoulder length dirty blond hair had strong highlights in it. She wore black leggings and a baggy black and white blouse that hung just over her hips. Her voice was angelical. I am in love. I think…no, I know I will love this girl forever.

After the commercial, the four girls on stage were joined by three teenage boys. I no longer care anything about Menudo because I have found myself. There he was. He was front and center with the biggest and widest smile I have every seen. He has curly hair and is everything I am not. I want to be him. I want to be everything he is but I can’t. He has a flat chest and while mine doesn’t have mountains, it has hills that might grow into mountains. His voice his deep. Mine is high. I am a soprano in choir.

The more I watch, the more I am in love with these seven teenagers but it is her I know is the perfect girl and it is him I want to inspire to be. I bet if I asked my mother to perm my straight hair, she will let me. That will make me feel closer to who I am meant to be. I’ll stop wearing dresses and ask to buy clothes like his. I’ll smile like he does too. Maybe I can change my name to something not so girlish. Maybe if I tell the world I am like him, they will believe me. Doesn’t it work like that?

How hard could it be to be a boy when the outside of my body tells everyone I’m a girl?

Parents always say you can be anything you want if you just try hard enough. I’m gonna try my hardest to be the guy I want to be and maybe one day, I will; and when I am that guy, I am going to find that girl and make her my girlfriend. I hope by the time you read this letter, you are a man with a wonderful and beautiful woman as your wife. Maybe she will look just like the love of your life. By the way, her name is Sasha and his name is Diego.

Love, Your 15-year-old self

I Signed Up For MasterClass

Yesterday, I signed up for my year long MasterClass program to help with writing. I started my first class with Judy Blume. Hell, why not. There are 19 different writing classes, so I have my work cut out for me.

Ultimately, I decided to take the plunge and spend the $180 for the year and beef up my writing skills. I debated this for a hard while because I didn’t want to fork out the money if this was just going to be one of those “hobbies” that I quit in 2 months just to insist that my passion lies somewhere else, and everyone agreeing with me. Which then again would change in 2 months stating that my REAL passion was something entirely different and everyone agreeing with me.

Even when I get bored and/or writer’s block, I come back to this: WRITING. So… here is another attempt at focusing on a hobby and I know everyone around me will either say YOU GOT THIS or ANOTHER HOBBY.

As I go forward with the classes, I know there will be assignments because I already go down to my first one with Judy Blume. I will use this blog as a place for my writing assignments and where I can discuss the program, the books they want us to read, and so on.

Part of the reason for the move to enhance my craft comes from where we are in life. Elisabeth has jumped into a creative career and is taking classes to better herself. I do believe that I write a good story, maybe the grammar and flow could be better. Why not take this time to better myself and my writing and after this time of study, I can go back to my works and bring this new author out in me. Go back to publishing real books and Kindles and tell myself that I am a writer.