Coming from Mexico where I lived the first few years of my life, starting school was not easy. On top of all the other changes, this did not start very well. First, I did not speak English and although we lived in a place where many people spoke Spanish, school was English only. The kids spoke Spanglish, a term I was not familiar with at all. I was to be enrolled in first grade and sent to English as a second language classes. I as the rebellious child I was only made my learning harder. One of my memories is of the teacher leaving me to record myself reading and not use the book. Needless to say when she walked out, you guessed I grabbed the book!
Friendships did not come easy either. I was a shy and felt out of place and I felt that I was the darkest child in the school. Although, the Southwest was inhabited by Immigrants and people spoke my native language, I was still the darkest of them all. Add insult to injury, I had a lazy eye. Honestly, what else could be wrong with me? I was a Spanish speaking, dark skinned, lazy eye, and solitary child that did not fit well into her surroundings. Looking back, I know it was me who made my life harder than it had to be.
The first year of school is a blur. I hardly remember life at that time. I know I was lonely and yearned for friendship and love. That initial year must have been a failure, as I was held back in first grade. The second year was quite an adventure. First I had to wear glasses and a patch over my eye to help with the problem. Imagine what life was for me then! Unpopular and looking like a pirate! On the first day I came to school with a patch, the teachers were quite nice and allowed me some treats. I remember it was the day the Challenger was about to launch, all of us were in the computer lab listening over the intercom. I don’t have memories of being teased too much. I only recall one time where a boy said something and I smacked him. I was in the principals office so much that year, I became close with the paddle! Remember those times, where we used to get into trouble and depending on the severity you would get spanked. Honestly, I think at some point my guardians stopped showing up and just said punish her as you see fit. A second memory I recall about first grade was when I sharpened my finger. How does one come to that conclusion? Well I was in class and I needed to write, I asked the teacher for a pencil and she told me to write with my finger! The audacity, I know… So what does this one do? I sat down pondered how to accomplish the task and came to the conclusion I needed a point in my finger to be able to write. This is a story that has been repeated for years from the teachers at the school, I found this out when I returned to visit.
The good news for me was I had eye surgery to correct the lazy eye. I missed school for about a week, which was exciting as I never was allowed to skip school, NEVER! Thankfully this surgery made life easier, it helped with my self-esteem which nonexistent at this point.