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Friday morning. Third grade. I wake up just a little earlier. Quiz day. Words after words that mean nothing are staring me down from that dreaded spelling sheet. I get in the back seat of the family’s black Volvo station wagon and ride down Sheffield Avenue. Stressing out, I yell at my mom about turning down her music. Why doesn’t she understand? I have a huge test that I’m clearly not ready for. She reassures me that I’ll do fine as we sit in front of my carpool’s house waiting for her to join me in stress.
My friend, my mom, and I head to the back of the Chicago City Day School library to meet the ten other girls patiently anticipating our arrival. We sit down at our usual little grey tables as my mom walks up to the white board and starts jotting down the faintly recognizable words that I read earlier from that spelling sheet. Soon these meaningless words will become part of our immense third-grade vocabulary.

My mom stands in front of the group explaining how to pronounce, spell, and define each of these words, hoping to erase the questionable looks on our faces. I look at the clock and see 7:34. 7:34? Is that real? You’re telling me that I actually have only twenty six minutes to learn thirty aggravatingly difficult words? I’m dead…

No worries though, because I’m not alone. No one else in my grade knows these words and it is up to my mom to quickly cram them into our brains. Everything seems to be running though my mind right now—that is everything but those words. Why am I the unluckiest person on earth? Does every third grader have a spelling quiz each Friday? It’s unreasonable…
Bridgette! Look alive! I think to myself. What am I doing? I seriously need to be paying attention to my mom here unless I want to be held back a year. That is always my mom’s threat to everything. “Fine don’t study if you just want to take it all again next year because I don’t care.” Or how about when I tell her that I don’t feel well and her response is always something along the lines of, “Okay well you have two choices: get in the car and go to the hospital or go to school.” Oh the life of a nine-year-old.

“Bridgette, pay attention!” My mom now calls on me to go up to the board and write down the word when she states the definition. “Creatures that used to live on earth before humans.” I know this I know this. Dinosaurs. Hmm di-no-saurs. D-I-N-O-S-A-U-R-S. I’m right, thank God—now I get to sit down. I bet dinosaurs didn’t have to worry about taking stupid spelling quizzes every Friday.
I return to my seat and check the clock one last time. 7:50. Okay that is not bad. I still have ten minutes to learn the last four words that I cannot seem to jam in my head.

Special, caterpillar, chocolate, cousin

Life is too frustrating.

Before I know it, 8:00 comes around and my mom gives me a kiss on the cheek, puts my lunch box in the lunch cart, and wishes me good luck as sends me on my way to take my quiz that could clearly make or break my life. On the bright side, in fifteen minutes, it will all be over with. But on the other hand, I’ll be back in that library next Friday morning facing a whole new set of difficulties.





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