On My fifth grade report card, my teacher wrote that I was ‘over-exuberant.’ She said that I didn’t understand traditional boundaries, and that I needed to realize that I “cannot always do what I want, when I want.” She skimmed over the fact that I had straight As and wrote an entire paragraph which chastised my high energy levels and my constant need for stimulation.
As I’ve grown older, much of my childhood has started to fade and melt into one blurry and incoherent memory, but I will never forget the day I received that report card. I did not know the meaning of ‘exuberance’ so I found a dictionary and looked it up. I was mortified that somebody thought these things of me, and I started to constantly question my behavior and personality, hoping that I was not being too ‘over-exuberant.’
These last few weeks before my move to California have inevitably presented me with the opportunity to sort though the artifacts of my childhood. Just last night, my mother and I were sitting on the living room floor together, scraping together the move important remnants while trying to purge ourselves of the others. We came across my fifth grade report card. She didn’t recall that particular document with the clarity that I did, so she reread it and decided that she didn’t like it either. We ripped it up together and threw it away.
I woke up this morning, my last morning in Massachusetts, not knowing where to begin. I meandered into the kitchen where my mom was performing her daily ritual of coffee/english muffin/raspberry jam. I opened up the computer and printed my boarding passes. We cried.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about that report card, and I feel really bad that I didn’t deal with it better,” she said. “Everybody has always been trying to restrain you.”
Well, here I go.