The time I couldn’t get my drawing on the cork board
And the lifelong trauma it inspired.
My kindergarten classroom was a vibrant, creative space. My teacher loved rainbows, so an enormous rainbow was painted across the far wall. The rainbow spilled into a fluffy cloud with a huge, cartoon smile on its face. You could see the rainbow from outside in the hallway — it was that big.
I was only 4 years old and that rainbow blew my mind. I didn’t know people were allowed to have rainbows on their walls. I thought walls were for hanging framed pictures of ducks wearing bonnets and maybe flowered wallpaper if you were feeling sassy.
That rainbow meant nothing was off the table. Anything could happen.
And I was ready for that.
Or so I thought.
We did all the standard kindergarten stuff, things like story time, recess, worksheets, and learning how to add. Everything seemed manageable and I started really feeling my role as a kindergartener.
Then the teacher pulled out coloring sheets!
I almost lost my shit, though I was smart enough to play it cool. Coloring sheets were the bomb! Coloring was my all-time favorite activity, even more fun than wishing for a dog or stealing my grandma’s makeup from her purse.
I’d been training for this moment my entire life because, and I don’t like to brag, I was a pretty good colorer.
The coloring sheet was some kind of fancy pants Precious Moments nonsense. Not my ideal choice, but I was determined to overcome. I was going to color the shit out of that coloring sheet and my teacher would be very impressed with me, because she was clearly a kindred spirit who appreciated creativity, vibrancy, rainbows, and passion.
So I created my masterpiece, while everyone around me worked away at their subpar visions.
Our teacher collected all the coloring sheets and put them away somewhere without even looking at them. Weird. Uh, okay. A bit disappointed at this anticlimactic response to my work, I decided to be the bigger person and not make a fuss.
I entered the classroom, charged up for a new day. But, something had changed. There was a big cork board above the teacher’s desk. Yesterday it had been empty, but today it was covered with… omg. It was covered with coloring sheets.
There were about six of them. Six sheets pinned to the board. Twenty some-odd students in the classroom.
She’d picked the best ones.
Of course I had to check this out, so keeping it casual, I sidled up to the board. Surely mine would be there.
I looked again, in case I got it wrong the first time.
Mine was definitely not there.
This was the second time in two days that my mind was completely blown. It just didn’t make sense.
Later our teacher went through the sheets on the board, explaining to us why she’d picked them. She showed how neat the coloring was, how the colors matched and how the colorers had managed to stay inside the lines. The people who’d colored those particular sheets? You’d have thought they were the freaking kings and queens of England.
You guys, I could barely keep from rolling my eyes. I was only four, so I hadn’t figured out how to roll my eyes yet, but believe me when I say that was the moment in which the first impulse was born.
When our teacher put the next coloring sheets in front of us, I determined to try and pay a little more attention to “being neat”. If that’s what this chick wanted, surely I could deliver.
This time I entered the classroom with trepidation. My confidence had been somewhat dented by the previous day’s experience and I didn’t know what to expect. But, I’d turned in a strong coloring sheet. Surely she’d like this one!
New sheets had replaced the old ones, but again there was no sign of my work.
As the year passed, some colorers began to emerge as stars. Their sheets appeared on the board again and again. Others didn’t get the same level of attention, but managed to hit the board every once in a while. Everyone got up there at least once.
Everyone, except for me.
I couldn’t understand. Was I really such a terrible colorer? I got great feedback on my work in preschool!
Every day I came in and looked at the board, thinking that surely today would be my day. But it never was.
Maybe I wasn’t good at coloring.
Maybe I wasn’t good at anything.
Finally I mentioned it to my parents, in a sort of “isn’t this weird” kind of tone. They found it extremely weird and I think they must have said something to my teacher, because the next day, when I went into the classroom, things were different.
There were 20 coloring sheets tacked to the board.
Every single kid had their sheet on the board.