What were my experiences at this age? My daughter is almost 10 and finishing 4th grade. I started 4th grade with a young teacher, Ms. Hillier. She played the guitar for us and taught us folk songs like “Waltzing Matilda” and “Bill Grogan’s Goat.” In the afternoons she would read to us The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It was a magical book and I loved it. And I learned that one must never shut oneself in a wardrobe! It was the Cold War and we practiced “duck and cover.” I looked out the large glass window at the back of our classroom and thought that if we saw a flash there wouldn’t be time to get under our desks and we would all be toast anyway. Later I was transferred into a 4th/5th combination class in a portable with Mr. Campbell. We learned about our newest state Hawaii. My dad had died when I was in 3rd grade and my mom had just remarried and gone to Hawaii on her honeymoon. She brought back lots of cool stuff I could use for my class presentations and I took Polynesian dance classes along with Ballet. Our teacher would push back all the desks and we would square dance. At first the boys wouldn’t touch our hands, but eventually we all got to enjoy the dancing. I grew about 5 inches and my eyesight plummeted. It was a time for tortoiseshell glasses and training bras. At my birthday party at the swim club, the girls acted very modest. They wore their beach towels right up to the edge of the pool before dropping them and jumping into the pool in their bikinis. It was the first year a group of Stanford boys whistled at me.
When I look at my daughter now, I have a hard time believing she is that same age. She is long and leggy like a colt, but slim and blonde. She is bright and beautiful, creative and cuddly. She designs websites, picks out clothes on line for her equivalent of a paperdoll. She plays with her American Girl dolls, reads voraciously including American Girl Magazine and wants to try out all the recipes and crafts in it. She loves having her girlfriends over for sleep overs. That is the light side of childhood and tweendom these days.