In fifth and sixth grade, I learned so much. As much, if not more, than I learned in all of my other grades combined.
I learned things that were useful to me and taught me life lessons.
One of my favorite life lessons was that family doesn’t have to be blood-related.
I became so close to the fifty people in my class over those two years, and even though I haven’t stayed very close to them, I still remember all of their names, nicknames, and like-numbers. I remember something unique about each one of them; I remember unique stories about them all.
Those fifty students became my best friends and siblings; the four teachers became my second parents.
Once, I was sick for a week. When I returned to class, they laughed and said things like, “She is alive,” or “Is that Batterbee? I forgot who you were.” But they also were glad to see that I was okay.
Another time I was leaving for two days and people rushed toward me to give me a hug before I left.
This was how we acted toward everyone. At the end of fifth grade, three of our family members had to abandon us. They moved all across the world: Russia, Kentucky, Texas. But we never lost sight of them, and I’m sure they let us escape their memory.
I wish I stayed closer to them all. But time is infinite.
Nothing has been severed.
You can never fracture a family.
In fifth grade, they told us all that family doesn’t have to be blood-related. That was the first time that notion steamrolled into my innocent mind, and they were right. I still consider everyone I met there my Goodwillie family. I think of everyone at ballet as my ballet family, and even people at school as my school family. And it is true.
We all help each other; we protect each other; we make memories together. We miss people when they leave, and we remember each other when we are gone. We want each other to feel happy.
We were a family. Nothing can change that.
I also learned how to truly appreciate nature.
We had to do something called phenology—we sat in the woods and wrote about all the senses. At the time, I hated doing it. I thought it was boring. I also thought it was stressful because they were expecting a certain amount of pages written and I never had that done.
Now that I look back, I realize how awe-inspiring it was. I sat and appreciated nature. I relaxed and watched the world. I miss it now.
Now I crumble away to school daily, and I don’t get to hear the inspiring words “keep climbing the ladder to that next rung.” Instead, I hear “test on Monday.” I am locked inside cages. I am an animal in captivity. I used to be free, but now, I am powerless.
Every day I itch to go back to a time that I cherished my days at school. I want to go back to my family. And stay little forever.