What do you remember when you hear the word „school“? The first thing that comes to my mind is routine, because at our school, it was always the same. Mom would wake us up before seven o’clock, sent us to brush our teeth and then we had breakfast. There was always a slice of bread for each of us already on the table; with cheese, butter, jam, or radishes. I don’t understand how mom could manage all this, since our dad left for work one hour earlier.
But we just grabbed our snacks and run to school.
I used to sit in the back row at school, that was my spot. When I close my eyes and go back in time, I still see the blackboard in the distance, covered in white chalk writing, and the teacher pacing measuredly and asking us: „Who can tell me what animal I am describing? It lives on land, well, on ice, really. When it walks, it sways and waddles in a very funny way. It’s black and white and has a little beak. It’s actually a bird, but its wings are small and underdeveloped. It can’t fly, but it can swim beautifully.“
A girl in the first row shot up her hand, signaling that she knew the answer. „A genpuin! A genpuin!“
Even today when I see a penguin, I remember Jitka, my classmate from first grade.
We changed schools for second grade. This school was called „U Chanosu“ for the factory that stood nearby. Once again I sat in the back row so that I knew what was going on in the classroom and nobody could bother me. You cannot hide in the front, but you can in the back.
I don’t think I was stressed at school. Months passed. I was a good student, straight As, only an occasional B. I cared about getting good grades, no doubt about that. A few years later we even tried to outdo each other with my friend Marek, competing to see who would get more As. Marek was also a goalkeeper and a great student. We egged each other on: How many As in a row can you get in the record book before you get a different grade?
Five. Ten. Fifteen. Eighteen. And then I got a B and felt sorry that my A streak was interrupted. Not mentioning Cs, I was always furious when I got one. Even getting top grades was a motivation for me, a challenge and a competition.
And you know me: I wanted to be the best – at everything, and studying was no exception. That’s just who I am.
P.S. Next week - Chapter 7