The Pop of the Flash / by Leslie

I picked out my favorite outfit, the yellow checked dress my Mom sewed for me with the white pinafore that went over it. I put on white tights and black buckle shoes and Mom curled my hair and put it in barrettes.

I had just started Kindergarten and I loved it. I walked to school with Eric and he held my hand. When we got to a lamppost, we would walk on opposite sides of it and let it break our hands apart and say “bread and butter”. He was my best friend.

Amanda and Adelle were dressed up that morning too, hair curled and their best clothes on. We played in the kitchen corner, my favorite place, and pretended to cook breakfast and iron clothes.

I liked playing with Lisa and Jason too, but it was harder because they couldn’t hear me as well. They had ear plugs and little boxes around their necks that helped them hear. I would persist at communicating with them though and I remember the day I learned the sign for cloud. I still know all the signs for the alphabet. I am so grateful for their presence in my life at such an early age.

When it was time to get our picture taken we all lined up and I felt so excited. When my name was called I sat down on the stool in front of the blue-sky backdrop. There was a big camera and big white boxes on stands. The photographer held a cord that was attached to the camera. He said, “Smile!” and I flashed my biggest, best smile as he pressed the shutter release and the big boxes popped with a burst of bright light. 

After we all had our pictures taken, we sat down for a snack. That day it was a half an apple with peanut butter in the middle where the core had been. Mrs. Butler called it Mud in a Cloud and it was my favorite snack. I was sitting next to Crystal and I asked her why she didn’t wear a dress to school for picture day. She was wearing a t-shirt that said “Montreal” and the jeans that she wore almost every day. She said she didn’t have one and it made me sad to think of someone without a dress for picture day. I wondered what her room looked like.

Mel was the bad kid. I think I got into a fight with him on the playground one time. He was teasing me and I pushed him. He pushed me back and I fell and started crying.

I know all of these names because my Mom wrote them on the back of my school picture. I moved after kindergarten and I don’t know who or what any of these children grew up to be. It seems to me each person that I encountered taught me something and that life in kindergarten wasn’t so very different from life now.

Through other people, we get to know ourselves. Age five is when we begin to really be who we are. Our first interactions in school are pebbles thrown in a lake with ripples that reach out into the rest of our lives. I still love to communicate. I still wish everyone had a dress to wear. I still love to eat apples with peanut butter. I am a photographer and still love that pop of the flash.

In the Fall my oldest child will start Kindergarten and I wonder what he will remember, who he will meet, where he will fit in and who he will decide to be.


This post was inspired by The Red Dress Club's Memoir writing prompt. This week's assignment was to "write about Kindergarten. Mine your memories and write about the earliest grade you can recall. What was special? What was ordinary? What did you feel? Hear? See? Smell?" Please also check out the other responses.