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Third Grade

"Say, 'Third grade rules!'" I said to Mallory, trying to get her to smile for the camera.

"But I don't know if that's true yet," she said. My child, the eight-and-a-half-year-old literalist.

I loved third grade, myself. I loved my teacher, Mrs Neill. She could be loud and kind of scary when we were acting up, but she was funny, too. Certain things she said still stick in my mind. We did the state capitols in third grade, and I can't see or hear "Idaho" without remembering how she said, "I'd a hoe iffen it doesn't rain," when we learned "Boise." If I hear the line, "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo," I remember Mrs Neill saying in a squeaky voice, "I'm down here, Juliet!" (When, I learned that "wherefore" actually means "why," I was immediately filled with concern that perhaps Mrs Neill didn't realize that.)

One day we were learning irregular verb endings. "See...saw..." she said, and we furnished Seen! "Eat...ate..." she said, and we chorused: Eaten! "Drive...drove," she said, and, in some kind of weird groupthink, we all shouted: "Droove!" And she laughed so hard she cried.

Third grade was awesome because we were finally allowed to check out books from the Chapter Book section of the library. I read Ramona, Sheila the Great, Harriet the Spy, the One-of-a-Kind Family, Amy and Laura. I loved Children's Biography series -- bound in orange, with purply illustrations on the covers -- and read all the ones about girls: Jane Addams (subtitle: Little Lame Girl; that was my favorite); Eleanor Roosevelt; Helen Keller, Emily Dickinson.

Two very important things happened in third grade. First, I met Kelley, who would be my best friend all the way through school and beyond. Kelley and I acted out elaborate scenes on the playground. We decided that, in the event we became able to fly, we would travel together to Disneyland, eating at every McDonald's along the way. We saved crumbs from our lunches to feed a particular anthill on the playground, and were devastated one day to find the anthill had been destroyed. We wrote letters to one another in the guise of our future selves, inventing husbands and children and jobs and perilous situations. As the kids would say today, we were total BFFs.

The second important thing that happened in third grade was, I decided to become a writer when I grew up. I don't know exactly why this occurred, although I'd be willing to attribute it to Harriet the Spy. In third grade I penned my first story, "Kathy the Kat and the Case of the Missing Jewels." I still remember the first lines: "Kathy the Kat got up and yawned and stretched. She could tell it was going to be a good day." I don't know why I wrote about a cat; I didn't much like cats (or kats, either). As for the missing jewels, I will tell you that the butler did it. (Did I know, as a third grader, the cliche about the butler doing it? How could I have known something like that? But if I didn't know that, then why did I pin it on the butler?) At any rate, third grade is when I started carrying around an extra spiral notebook everywhere I went, to record my stories. I'm not sure if that momentous third-grade decision did me much good in the long run. Maybe it would have been better if I'd decided in the third grade to become a nuclear physicist. But I didn't, and here I am.

I hope her third grade year is equally memorable.


Karen said…
I suspect that you are one of a very few students who found Mrs. Neill funny. When I was teaching in high school, many of my students remembered her as scary!
aimee said…
Yeah, I don't remember Mrs. Neill being funny. But she wasn't scary either. I remember she told Mom that an outfit that I wore was inappropriate one time. And it wasn't the yellow hammer pants either. haha.

I really am amazed at your remarkable memory, although third grade has some stand out memories for me as well. Just not as many. And that is really cool that you brought a spiral with you everywhere.

Oh and tell Chris, Rhett has been drawing away. He has drawn many Spiderman and a Batman and even started an comic book story.
aimee said…
Oh and tell Mallory to have a good year!!
H Noble said…
Your memory amazes me. I don't remember stuff that happened in high school. I do have a couple of third grade memories, but I think they stuck b/c it was my first year in Friona schools. And I had Mrs. Procter who was the nicest teacher ever to be had.

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