What I remember most vividly from the week or so I spent in kindergarten: the little playhouse with its kitchen and miniature pots and pans, the terrarium, the fish tanks, the naps, snacktime, storytime, and the rugs we played on. I only semi-remember the conversation in which my mother explained why I was being pulled out of kindergarten and sent to first grade – I’d get to be in class with all the older kids in the neighborhood and I was “ready to read.”
Actually, I wasn’t quite ready, though I’d mostly learned the alphabet (the later letters – from T through X – were still hard to keep straight, but I was back on solid ground with Y and Z). Still, it seemed like a long and painful time before I made the connection between the letters I knew, the stories my mother read at night, and the thing we were supposed to get from the books in front of us, in which Jack and Jane and Spot seemed to live drearily utopian and unbelievable lives. Marks on the page had something to do with the pictures, in a way kids all around me seemed to be able to navigate.
Then, from one minute to another, I had it. I was reading, and I still remember the shock of delight. Oh, so that’s what it’s like? Endless possibilities opened up.
Almost immediately, I began to try to write. For some years my mother kept copies of the first attempts to make something out of words.
1) a poem:
I would like to fly
in the sky
2) a letter:
Dear President Nixon
Please stop this war!!!
That’s it. Everything afterward has just been a restatement of the same basic themes.