Friday, 26 August 2011

A Shining New Perspective

I was born in Singapore.  I’ve never been anywhere outside of Asia. My parents are originally from England. They moved here because of my mom’s job and decided to stay because Singapore is a safe and happy place to raise two daughters and a son. In third grade, I transferred to Singapore American School from another international school in Singapore. The social and academic transition went perfectly. I was happy. I liked my teacher. I started making new friends.

When I was young, I always felt like I walked like a penguin: one foot slowly in front of the other. At SAS, I was treated fairly as if it was no big deal. Kids were nice and friendly. I was the girl who wore a splint on her leg and on her wrist, but I didn’t care, and neither did they.  Still, I was still. I was often the girl who sat near the back green door and didn’t talk to anyone. I would separate from others because I did not like them asking me questions. “Why do you limp?” “What’s your brace for?” 

However, I did have a best friend. Her name was Caroline. She had white blonde hair and could do effortless cartwheels on the playground. Caroline and I used to play freeze tag during morning break. We would also talk about how hard the fraction and multiplication was during math class. We would have play dates too on the weekend. During our play dates we would watch Cheaper by the Dozen, swim in the pool, dress-up as famous people. Once, we almost signed up to sing and dance in the talent show together. She was one of my real friends. She would do anything for me and vice versa. Unfortunately, we lost touch during the fourth grade when she moved to Kuwait.

During the summer between third and fourth grade, I got sick. I was so tired I couldn’t sit up straight. All I wanted to do was lie in bed and watch dog movies with my mommy. Then, it was time to start fourth grade. I had to start in a wheelchair because I was too tired to walk.  At that moment, when I was starting school in a wheelchair, I wished that I was the girl again in third grade who wore a splint on her leg and wrist. On the first day of school, I did not want to be the girl in the wheelchair. But, then I met Bill. He had broken his leg, and he needed a chair too. I was happy to not be the only kid in a wheelchair. I had a few fun and happy moments those first few days. Bill and I raced our wheelchairs on the bridge to the cafeteria. We only had one race, then unfortunately, we got caught. Ms. Redlin a bit unhappy with us.

 I also made some new friends that first day of fourth grade. I met a girl named Audrey. We were close friends at school, not as close as I was with Caroline, but still we were friends. I had a few good months, then my year was cut short by an annoying little stroke. It was in September and all I remember is that I woke up and wasn’t at home anymore. I was now living in the ICU. It felt like being in an observation dome, very annoying but yet exciting too. Every three hours a nurse would come in to poke me, prod me, or take something from me; but, it was also like real life Gray’s Anatomy: exciting, nurses, cute doctors.  I had been in the hospital 25 times, but this time, I would leave ... different. The doctor said I needed a trache. It would let me breathe easier, but I would not have a voice. I showed him. Within two hours, I was asking for gelato from Ms. Taylor, my school counselor.

I was in the hospital until about March and was ready to return to school soon after. My first day back, the London taxi dropped us off in the intermediate school car park because we had to take the elevator up.  I remember getting out of the elevator on the first floor. I wanted to see my third grade teacher, Ms. Dodge, but my mom wouldn’t let me.  We had to go to the IS office. Ms. Graham, my principal, bizarrely pointed me in the direction of the car park. When I peeked around the corner, I saw bright colored “Welcome Back” and “Chelsea” signs. I saw Ms. Dodge, Ms. Redlin, my fourth grade teacher, Ms. O and Mr. L’Hureaux. I saw Nurses Chan and Ms. Lynnette.  I saw the art teachers Mr. Ed and Ms. Mac. I remember seeing my sister, Fran, my friends Kathleen and Aline, another friend from third grade.

Throughout the next three grades I have learned how to embrace who I am now. I have learned how to whisper and make my words understood. I have learned how to irritate my family with funny noises. I’ve learned how to study and how to be ready for quizzes and tests in every subject. I have learned how read every romance vampire book known to SAS. I’m now in 8th grade which is so much more fun because I am embracing more of what happens around me. 

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