“Don’t you wish you could take a single childhood memory and blow it up into a bubble and live inside it forever?”
― Sarah Addison Allen, Lost Lake
After reaching a certain age (probably 5 or 6) I stopped going to the daycare and I started going to school instead. Another place I’d do ANYTHING just to get to visit for one last time …
My school was an International British school which, much like my daycare, was a diverse and colorful place which I remember enjoying so much. Unfortunately, I spent only 2 years at it before the most tragic transition* in my life, so far, took place.
The first year was Kindergarten 2. The class seemed huge for children our size, and we were about 10 children (the only 2nd grade Kindergartens in the whole school. Classes for older students had even fewer children). I remember the class was divided into partitions by different furniture. The largest, and the one in which we spent most of our time, was a large rectangular area with nothing much more than a carpet. In this area I remember two occasions very clearly: Christmas, and our Arabic language lessons.
Another partition in that class was made of a long white table surrounded by white chairs and it had a blackboard in it. This is where I remember learning about the English letters and how to “draw” them. It was explained to us in absolute detail from where to start writing an certain English character and how to finish it. There was at least one more partition which I can’t quite remember. The 1st grade class seemed to be smaller and also partitioned into at least two parts.
I remember we had one teacher for each year; Mrs. H and Mrs. K (I don’t remember which one was in KG2 and which was in grade 1, though). The only exception was the Arabic teacher that visited us from time to time in KG2 to teach us some basic Arabic as a second language (first was English of course). All of them were awesome and seemed very skillful, even the Arabic teacher, which was an Arab unlike the other two who were British or American. She used to teach us Arabic verbs in a very funny way. For example: she pretended to run and kept asking us to repeat the word “yajry” after her, which means “to run” in Arabic. I also remember her teaching us the word “yaghsel” or “to wash” in the same manner in addition to some of the Arabic numbers. Today, Arabic is my native language, nonetheless …
One of the pleasant memories I have is getting gifts for Christmas and Easter at school. I remember waiting for my name to be called so that I can take my turn to pick one red stocking from those hanging from the Christmas tree and then take my gift from inside it. One gift I received once was a little colorful wooden puzzle brontosaurus.
I remember learning about the mystical solar system and its planets in grade 1. It was also the year when we learned about geography and country flags, which was accompanied by learning about the countries from which each of us came from. I also remember learning about the dinosaurs and that they were divided into carnivores and herbivores. I was immensely fascinated by those magical creatures back then. I remember being punished once by having to standing in the corner for doing something that made the teacher very angry which I couldn’t remember now.
One of the most powerful memories I have is learning the mathematical concepts of “greater than” and “smaller than”, probably because of the creative way with which it was taught to us: the teacher gave us little green crocodile heads made of paper and told us that they were very greedy; she gave us sheets of papers which had numbers listed in two columns and in each row we had to choose which amount will the crocodile want to “eat”, so we had to give the greedy crocodile the most amount each time. Today, this memory serves as an unforgettable difference between the quality and the methodology of the education I enjoyed back then and that which I suffered from in my country for the rest of my studying years …
The school had a sandy playground which had swings and slides. It was surrounded with an iron fence through which you can see the vast desert that seemed to surround the school from everywhere and the beautiful large trees in it. The pearl of the playground, however, was a majestic game called “the flying fox”. It was composed of a tall wooden structure from which children took turns to hold on to a large handle and then jump. The handle hung from a wire extending from above the structure and all the way to the top of another –much shorter- triangular-shaped structure. The idea was to hold onto the handle with both of your hands and jump into the air so you can “fly” in the sky and forget all about your worries while the handle slides down the wire until you land on the ground on the other side, then go back to the beginning to take another turn. The catch was that you had to be old enough to be allowed to play with the flying fox. I kept waiting for the day in which I would reach the minimum age and get to fly like the older children, but that day never came …