Marks from the Past

Marks from the Past

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped by my Tío Toñito’s house. After 37 years, he has finally decided to sell his home–the one in which I lived between the ages of 5 and 11. I have so many memories of that place! The backyard, our pets, going for walks through the neighborhood, drawing in my bedroom, watching TV with him in the living room… and on and on. But physically, there isn’t really much inside of those walls for me to latch on to. My mother was what I would call an anti-pack rat. The opposite of a hoarder. Every once in a while she’d go into a cleaning-out frenzy and throw out or give away anything she didn’t need, which was just about everything. Among the things she got rid of that I wish she hadn’t: my middle school journals, my high school letterman jacket, her wedding album, the only picture of the three of us we ever had “professionally” taken (it was a free service provided by the church where my dad worked–we only got the single print), and bundles of photographs my dad had never bothered to put into albums. When she passed away, I received a single cardboard box of her personal belongings: two photo albums, neither of them completely full; a couple of expired passports; an old driver’s license; her glasses; a wooden back scratcher; a white blouse with a lace collar; her French-English travel dictionary. Treasures, to be sure, but also a testament to how free she was of material possessions and what she most valued near the end.


Anyway, I had thought that all of my childhood documents had been thrown out long ago, but my Tío Toñito assured me that he had found a folder containing my elementary school report cards. When he handed it to me, I was expecting to be disappointed, thinking perhaps he was confused, but sure enough, there they were. All seven of them, from kindergarten all the way through the sixth grade, each with at least one note from my teacher.


The kindergarten one is my favorite. Wouldn’t this look great in a fancy wooden frame, right next to my college degrees?

kindergarten report card



From 1st grade, straight 2s in conduct and one lousy B+ in math. Also, I believe that 2/3 in “general behavior” means I get to choose from those two options, and as for my absences, I think we may have taken a mid-year trip to Colombia that year. How I managed to be tardy 6 times when my dad worked there is beyond me, though.

1st grade report card


My third grade one is the one at the top of this post–the one with all those beautiful A-pluses for Language and Spelling. My fifth grade one, however, is much less impressive. I laughed when I read Ms. Chatelain’s comment for my parents after the first grading cycle:

fifth grade report card


In my defense, lack of self-control is a pretty good problem to have when you’re in the fifth grade. Kids with self-control are boring.

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