The ruler with the circles in it is the worst. Its bee sting leaves red welts on the back of her hand as a reminder of how bad she is. Bad, bad, bad! No other kids pick up a pencil with the wrong hand. No other kids have to sit at the tall piano all alone trying so hard to use the other hand that doesn’t work; the stupid stupid hand that doesn’t listen to her screaming brain.
Stay in the lines! Her brain screams as the defiant hand scribbles uncontrollably.
No one is looking now. The good hand gives the crayon to the bad hand. Quickly, before anyone sees her, the bad hand starts to write her name even though it is hard to write without turning her arm: Eliza....perfect letters! So proud!
Uh-oh, here comes Sister Penguin waddling over to the pathetic kid perched on the piano stool scrawling scribbled nothingness on her untidy paper.
HIDE! Her brain screams, MELT into the piano!
Too late. Can’t switch hands now. Sister Penguin already saw the bad hand working. Elizabeth knows what is coming. She can already feel the welts swelling and reddening on her bad bad hand. Tears start to stain the perfect letters of her name.
“Give me your hand, Elizabeth!” Sister Penguin yells so that all the children stop and stare.
Here comes another lesson on misbehaving in kindergarten - WHACK! The ruler comes down hard on the bad bad hand and Elizabeth feels the pain way deep in her soul - So deep, that she follows it and hides there while the children laugh and mock the pathetic little girl on the piano stool.
“Line up children.” It’s time for the Easter parade.
Elizabeth starts to slide off the stool when a cold claw grabs her shoulder. “Not you, Elizabeth!” Sister Penguin’s squawking voice pierces her soul hiding place. “You stay here and practice writing your name with your right hand!”
All is quiet. She wonders what the Easter parade is like? All the girls had Easter bonnets. She brought one too. It had pretty blue and pink flowers on it. She couldn’t wait to wear it in the Easter parade. She wondered if the Easter Bunny would be there. Will everyone get candy? She’ll never know because her stupid hand will never learn how to write her name.
So, she sits on the stool staring at her ugly paper hating her stupid hand. Hating herself. Hating her miserable kindergarten life. She picks up the pencil with the right hand and starts writing her name:
No matter how hard she tries, no perfect letters appear on the straight line. Soon, she hears the laughing of her classmates as they enter the room holding Easter baskets loaded down with spongy yellow chicks, chocolate eggs and rainbows of jelly beans. Elizabeth looks up from her sloppy paper as Sister Penguin waddles over holding the holy ruler. Slowly and deliberately Elizabeth holds out her hand.