Tag Archives: first grade

Boys: From Cuties to Cooties and Back Again


If there’s one thing that’s made clear when looking back at my personal journals it’s that I have always really liked boys. Remember how I mentioned that a lot of the time I was writing about super highs or super lows? Well, what gives one more of a super high than when you LIKE like someone?! (Or a super low when the feelings aren’t mutual?) My journals are practically an ode to my infatuations, which in comparison to other things in my life are written about with the most frequency and fervency by far. In fact, the very first personal journal I ever kept opened with a list (a RANKED list) of all the boys I had affections for at the time. I can easily catalogue my K-12 adventures based on which boy I was crushing on at the time.

In light of that, I just can’t bring myself to move on to second grade for February until I’ve written about one of the most monumental events of my first grade: MY FIRST CRUSH ON A BOY.

See, before first grade, I had never had a crush on a boy. There was this one time in kindergarten I had gone out to lunch with a boy from my class and his family. Afterwards, kids from our class teased me, telling me that the boy in question was now my boyfriend. I was mad. Not because it was uncool to have a boyfriend (it may have been–I really don’t remember), but because people were saying something that wasn’t true. At that point, it was still okay to have friends who were boys, and I didn’t understand why anyone would go around saying I had a boyfriend. Up until first grade, my experience with boys was limited to my family, preschool playdates with my friend/classmate Teppei, the aforementioned boyfriend accusation, and two boys (both named Hirofumi) who used to chase the girls around our kindergarten classroom trying to kiss us (?!).

And then there was Sean.

Alphabetical order is a beautiful thing sometimes. As fate would have it, Sean’s last name and my own fell directly next to each other on our class’s list. I don’t know how your elementary school classrooms worked, but mine always assigned each student a number, and that number was based on the alphabetical class list. These numbers were used for everything from seating charts to the line order used for walking to the cafeteria. And so Sean and I found ourselves next to each other constantly.

First Grade School Picture

My picture from my first grade yearbook

I don’t remember when I realized how hard I was crushing on Sean. First grade was still a time when boys and girls could play together and it wasn’t outside the norm. In fact, I distinctly recall having playdates with Sean and his buddy Clay. We were friends. But somewhere down the line it evolved into more.

One distinct memory I just can’t get over is one of me riding in the car and worrying that there was NO WAY I’d EVER be able to memorize how to spell Sean’s last name. Which was a big problem because what would I do when we got MARRIED? HIS name would be MY name! You’ve all seen how bad my spelling was back then. This was a disaster waiting to happen.

And it wasn’t just me. I’m nearly certain the affection was mutual. Now, my memories are quite fuzzy given that this was literally over twenty years ago, but I can’t have made it ALL up (okay, it’s possible). I remember being over at Sean’s house for a playdate. I remember playing a make-believe game in which not only were we married, but we were some kind of Bonnie and Clyde criminal duo, and the game involved us being in prison together and having to break out. I have never quite figured out if there was a peck-of-a-kiss involved in the game or if that was an embellishment I added to the memory later. Regardless, there were definitely feelings both ways. However silly they may have been.

Now, it wasn’t all blissful lives of crime and happy endings for Sean and me. Oh, no. Something changed. Because in second grade, boys officially became gross. This was when the cootie shot started going around. And the snarky chanting of “Girls rule and boys DROOL!” You could still associate with boys. They could still come to your birthday party. But they were more for pestering than for pining after. In second grade, I took up taunting Sean on the playground with my friends. We would perch on the tire swing and call him “Shenzi” as he ran by. I can’t remember if this was supposed to be insulting because we were calling him a hyena or because that hyena was a girl.

But don’t be fooled. I carried a torch for Sean for a long time. I think he moved to a different school after second grade. Other crushes came and went, and still I would wonder what could have been with the boy who was my first crush. Did he ever think of me? Would things have worked out somehow? Could I have EVER learned how to spell his last name?!

Don’t worry, mini Emilie. There will be plenty more affection, infatuation, and, yes, even love in your future. In fact, with pen to paper, you’ll rarely shut up about it. You’ll use that heart of yours with all your might–often in secret–and it will bring out your bravest, dumbest, happiest, silliest, and most poetic selves. Embrace it.

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Some Things Never Change…

I need to make a little PSA before I continue on to my first real post of the blog series/writing project. Pay attention because this is an important piece of information:


Not on purpose, but because memory is a tricky thing. As human beings, we are actually terrible at remembering exactly how things happened in our past. Our brains can only do so much! As I go back and recount things that happened ten to twenty (twenty?!) years ago, things are bound to get a little bent. In comparison to reality, my version might lose some detail here, gain some embellishments there, include things that never happened but that I once thought about a lot, or involve events that I literally dreamed about rather than actually having experienced them. I will do my best to stick to what “really happened,” and I’ll have a little help from my many volumes of written accounts since I have wavered between casual note keeper and obsessive journaler nearly my entire life.

So. What you’re getting may not be 100% the truth. But it will be MY truth. It will be my version of the story, through my eyes and my brain’s alterations, selections, and mistakes.

You’ve been warned. From this point on I allow myself the liberty to disclose information I am not actually certain is true. AND NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT IT.

Now on to the good stuff.

* * * * *

Ah, first grade! First time being at school all day long. First time being able to play on the big kid playground at recess. First crush on a boy. And I’m sure there were a million other firsts that I don’t even remember.

First grade was also when I kept my first journal, although it was for school assignments. My teacher provided every student with a blank journal bound in construction paper. Every once in a while, we would pull our journals out and be given prompts on what to write about (“Write about your favorite part of school,” “Write about what you did over vacation,” etc.), and if time allowed we would also draw an picture to go along with our entry. Of course the very first assignment was decorating the cover.


When I started preparing for this writing project, one of the first things I did was pull out the Official Archives of My Life, and my first grade school journals were the first items I dug out to start going through. What I found was that while some things were different than they had been back in 1994/1995, a lot of things were exactly the same.

First of all, let’s just establish the fact that I’m still as excellent of a speller now as I was then.

spring95_1stGradeJournal-grow up

The bad news for me was that I have a slew of animal-related allergies, which has seriously hindered my relationship with animals over the years (although I will usually brave the hives and itchy eyes to snuggle with a kitty anyway), so becoming a veterinarian (yes, that’s what that says) was something I eventually lost interest in. The good news for me was that being an artist could mean more than just drawing. Because WOW. Was my drawing great or what?

09-94_1stGradeJournal-call friend

Back when we used to call people. ON LAND LINES.

In case you’re wondering, my drawings still look just like that.

When I was in first grade, I was also really active. I played outside a lot and did well in P.E. at school. Climbing around on playground equipment was my favorite.

08-94_1stGradeJournal-monkey bars

Look at that happy face!

The funny thing is, it always feels like the best day ever when I find out we’re doing the monkey bars as part of our circuit at the gym! Yes, please let me climb on things.

Another thing that has certainly stayed true is my everlasting fondness for The Lion King. This movie was released the summer before first grade started for me and the obsession began immediately. Once we owned the VHS, it was all over. The first thing I ever bought with my own money was a stuffed animal set of Simba and Nala, both with magnets in their noses so they would “kiss.”

I’m pretty sure I could still recite the entirety of The Lion King line-for-line. The trend of “retro” Disney (aka, the 90s) recently being featured on clothing everywhere has been the greatest thing ever for me. I now own more Lion King shirts than I can wear in a week.

For our journals, our teacher had us fill out a “topic web” so that we wouldn’t ever feel stuck not knowing what to write about. This is a nice little snippet of what my 6/7-year-old self’s world was like, and I can’t help but feel some warm affection for that little kid. As you can see, The Lion King made the list of things I really wanted to write about. (You’ll also notice some more on-point spelling.)

1stGradeJournal-topic web

You can guess how excited I was when whatever parade I was watching on Thanksgiving Day featured a Lion King themed float.


I’m about 99% sure that’s Rafiki and Zazu on the left.

And the obsession with all things Lion King wasn’t just me. It ran in the family. My sister was also obsessed, as evidenced by how we celebrated her 15th birthday.

3-95_1stGradeJournal-Kristin's birthday

There is definitely a lion on that cake.

First grade was also the year I truly discovered my love for video games. For Christmas that year, we got The Lion King (of course) and Sonic and Knuckles for the Sega Genesis. I remember staying home from school on snow days consisting entirely of sledding, hot chocolate, and playing Sega with my brother and sister. (For the record, I dig out my good ol’ Sega Genesis every once in a while and still LOVE playing both of these games.)

1-95_1stGradeJournal-Lion King

Probably the best drawing of my 1st-grade career.

1-95_1stGradeJournal-Sonic and Knuckles

Complete with scratch-and-sniff crayons!

One last bonus entry. I honestly cannot remember what the prompt for this entry was. Was it to create our own silly toothpaste brand? WHY WOULD IT BE THAT? Regardless, I can’t help but see it as hinting at my soft spot for vampires.



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