Twenty-two years ago (November 1987) in our first grade class, my teacher Ms. Sparks gave us all a blank sheet of paper and told us to draw a picture of something we were thankful for. I was excited. Thirty minutes later, our teacher walked by everyone’s desk to see the art we had accomplished. As she came closer to me, I heard her reading off what each of my fellow students said they were thankful for.
“My family.” “My friends.” “My parents.” “My sister.” “My brother.”
Those were the things I was hearing. As I looked up from my drawing, I started to realize that maybe mine was a little bit different that everyone else’s. Ms. Sparks looked down at my picture. “Animals.” I was six year-old at the time, but I somehow was keen enough to notice that she that my drawing was weird.
“Yes, animals. We can be thankful for the animals.” She went on to the next student, trying to hide the confused look on her face.
I had drawn a picture of a picnic table. On top of the table were several live animals: a fox, a raccoon, a cat, a bird, a dog, a possum, a squirrel, and I want to say… a horse. (I really liked the Nick at Nite reruns of Mr. Ed back then.) At the top of the page, I appropriately titled my masterpiece with an orange crayon: ANIMALS.
Not necessarily animals that I ate. Just animals. I had a pet goldfish that I had won a few weeks before at the fair that I named Nippy. (It was cold outside when I tossed the ping-pong ball in the goldfish bowl.) But that was really the only exposure I had to animals. No other pets than Nippy the Goldfish.
I’m still trying to figure out why all these random animals would show up on a picnic table and why I was thankful for them. Kids are weird.
Animalspeak Table of Contents