The prompt for December 8 was:
What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.
I think my earliest memory was of nursery school (what preschool was called in those days). It was my first taste of what I considered injustice. The strength of my emotion – especially embarrassment – is why I remember it.
I had the habit of imitating other children, especially those I admired. This habit got me into trouble sometimes. The teacher was reading a story. At the end of the story, one of the little girls sitting in front of me clapped one time. The teacher told her not to do that, but in the next moment – I couldn’t help myself, I just had to do it too – CLAP!
My punishment was not just a simple talking to. I had to go sit in a corner with my face toward the wall, isolated from the rest of the class. I was mortified! Embarrassed, mad, upset about getting dirty from sitting on the bare floor in my dress, and a little scared, too, because right in front of me was a spider web and in the web was the spider! I didn’t recoil, though, or shout out. I watched it for a minute or two. The spider was still constructing her web – the thread trailed behind her as her feet stepped delicately on the thin strands in front of her. Since then, I have never been afraid of spiders.
I don’t know how long they made me sit there. I only remember how unfair I thought it was that the other little girl clapped and didn’t get punished, but I did. Perhaps there were extenuating circumstances – perhaps that was the only thing she did wrong all day, while I had received several warnings and scoldings. I had trouble letting go of an emotion, but I think what calmed me down that day was watching the spider spin her web.