Reminisce the Old Years

           I was lazily lounging in the back seat of the car and carelessly looking out of the window while my dad drove us home. We turned into a side street and the blurry display of houses and trees began to look familiar. I looked carefully and realized that I was close to Lunalilo, my elementary school. As we got closer, I could see the familiar barbed wire fence surrounding the field and the row of trees on the side. Towards the middle of the field were two playground equipments. However, the yellow playground, which I used to love to play on, had been taken down. In its place was a brand new structure that looked too complicated to climb on.
           In second grade, I was afraid to play on that yellow playground complete with monkey bars, twisting slides, and tunnels. That was because the older kids would trample anyone else that dares to step foot in it. On the occasional chance that I got to approach this structure, I found that I was too short to reach the bars, even when jumping. Therefore, I stuck with the other baby jungle gym on the other side of the field.
           Second grade was the year where I had to get used to a new school and a new community. I had moved from Hong Kong at the beginning of the summer. The changes were hard for me at first, but I got the hang of the Hawaii lifestyle after a while. Since I could not understand English as well as some of the other kids, I had to attend ESL (English as Second Language) class for a while. ESL class contained some of the most enjoyable times of the year because we always played games and made crafts. I remembered we painted a light bulb with sparkly paint and glued eyes and arms on it. I thought it was the most brilliant way to make a toy. We also got little gifts if our stamp cards were completely filled in. In order to get a stamp, we had to been on our best behaviors throughout class. Our reward was an item from the treasure chest, which was filled with sparkly plastic jewelry, colorful pencils, and sweet smelling erasers. Sometimes, we even had the choice to bring home a bag of guppies. Second grade was a new beginning for me, so I was excited for the next year when I was more comfortable with the school.
           In third grade, I was assigned to Mrs. Mito’s homeroom. From what I had heard before, Mrs. Mito was the nicest and funniest third grade teacher, so I was really excited to be in her class. That year our class also had a student teacher, Mrs. Olmos. She taught us sign language to the song “Proud to be an American” which we sung in a school assembly. For Christmas, we made yarn covered hangars and decorated photos of ourselves to give to our parents.
           The most memorable part of third grade was learning to dance the Macarena. This was for our end of year assembly performance. Our entire grade would file into the cafeteria every Wednesday to learn from Mrs. Sato, our dance instructor.
           “The first step is to lay out both arms straight in front of us,” Mrs. Sato began. We all followed her motion, while some kids snickered at the zombie-like position we were in.
           “Then, flip both arms over one by one. Next, put your right hand on your left shoulder and put your left hand on your right shoulder.” I watched Mrs. Sato’s movements carefully and tried to imitate her. When I was sure I had it the right way, I looked over at my friend, Andy, to find that his arms were crisscrossed in awkward and painful ways.
           “No, this is how you do it,” I told him as I undid my arms and slowly crossed them again in the right order.
           “Like this?” he asked while twisting his arms in another way.
           “That’s better,” I answered. As we moved on to the rest of the dance, more problems seemed to arise. Everybody seemed to have problems disentangling their arms and placing them on their hips. When we got to the part to shake our hips, several shook extravagantly, sticking their entire bottom out. Some wobbled slightly like a penguin, while others giggled at how silly everyone else looked.
           Mrs. Sato, clearly exasperated with us third graders, said, “Well let’s call this a day. We will continue next week. Good job everybody!”
           In fourth grade, my eyesight turned bad and I had to wear glasses. On the first day of class my mom talked to my new homeroom teacher, Ms. Sera, about my new glasses, so she arranged for me to sit in the front of the class. Sitting next to me was Lina, a small quiet girl that turned out to be loud and witty when you get to know her. Her personality resembled mines so closely that we immediately became great friends. With one direct eye contact, we would understand each other’s thoughts.
           As the year went on, we became the peer mediators for our class. Our duty was to walk around during recess, carrying clipboards, wearing bright safety vests, and checking on our fellow classmates. On the first day of our job, Lina and I excitedly grabbed our clipboards and safety vests and skipped out to the field. We walked around the entire field looking for an argument to break out. After about 5 minutes of doing so, we found that there were no quarrels for us to resolve. With nothing to do, we sat miserably on the side of field watching as everybody else played. Suddenly, we heard a loud shout from the group of jump ropers to our left. We eagerly jumped up from where we sat and ran towards the source of the sound. To our surprise, two of our close friends, Andy and Shannon were arguing with each other.
           “Stop it, give me the rope!” Andy shouted while keeping a firm grip on the jump rope.
           “I got it first!” Shannon retorted, also pulling the rope with all her might.
           “Break it up guys. We can all play with the rope,” I said as we approached them.
           “Report her! She won’t share!” Andy complained while turning to us.
           “If we can settle this now, we don’t want to have to report you guys,” Lina replied.
           “I know you guys are good friends and I don’t want you to get into trouble because of a silly fight like this,” I advised.
           “Wait, we’ll get into trouble?” Shannon asked, “I thought this wasn’t anything serious.”
           “No, this is serious. If we report you guys, you’ll have to go see the vice principal.”
           “Oh in that case, we were just joking,” Andy replied with a nervous chuckle. “We just wanted to give you guys something to do. You looked bored over there.”
           “What? I can’t believe you faked a fight,” I said as I shook my head. I had my suspicious when I found that it was them two.
           “You two are so dumb!” Lina declared as we walked away from them.
           In fifth grade, we ruled the school. We held our heads up high while walking through the campus. When little kids shrieked and ran in the hallways, we shook our heads, thinking how immature they were. The once off limits yellow playground was now our territory. We can slip down the slides and crawl through the tunnels as much as we want. As for the monkey bars, our arms had grown to the right length to swing forward, backward, and even to skip bars.
           “Watch me go backwards,” I eagerly told the group of younger kids surrounding the monkey bars. With my feet staggering at the edge of the platform and my arms raised above my head to hold the bars, I carefully moved my right arm backward to the next bar. When I felt the cold metal in my hands, I moved my other arm. Then, keeping a firm grip on the bar I swung out from the platform. I could feel the pressure of my weight just on my hands alone, so I quickly moved to the next bar. As I moved along the monkey bars, my hands began to burn, but I hanged on for dear life. When I finally reached the final bar and placed my feet on the ladder, my hands could finally relax. I proudly climbed down the ladder to the awed faces of underclassmen. At that point, I felt that all those years of being inferior to the older kids are worth it. It all led up to this moment when others looked up to me.
           Elementary school was one of the most memorable times of my life. From the early stages of learning English to the later years of showing off my skills to others, I have learned valuable lessons. Besides that, I have met friends that I still keep now as a high school senior. I hope to be able to keep these friends for the rest of my life. Each moment is so precious to me that I still chuckle when I remember it. Even though elementary school is one of the most basic stages of life, it is also one of the most important. As I passed by Lunalilo Elementary School, all of these memories rushed back to me. Sometimes I wish that I can return back to the elementary days because it might just be the most simple, yet interesting time of our lives.

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