August 28, 2013

little laura pushes the company line

Blogger's Note: Thanks to my family's pack-rat tendencies -- and my vanity -- I've managed to keep documentation of my progress as a writer from kindergarten on. Instead of letting those cedar chest gems go to waste, I figured I might as well do what I do best -- post them to my blog. This is Little Laura Learns the Ropes.

No. 7: Write an essay entitled, "Why I Like Hill School."
Date: Feb. 9, 1995
Age: 8
I like Hill because I like Mrs. (NAME)'s class alot because she teaches us cursive. We learn about the solar system and pets. We started book buddies with the kindergarten class.

I like science with Mrs. (NAME) because she taught us about animal habitats. We play games if we are good. Mrs. (NAME) is nice to us. We play with Butterball and look at the rest of the animals. We learn lots too.

My friends are next in line. (List of names) We all try hard to get along.

We play and talk at recess. Sometimes we eat together at lunch but mostly we talk. I'm glad I have nice friends. That's why I like Hill Elementary.

By Laura Chapman
OK. Before we dive into this essentially lackluster piece, I have to say something. I hate the word "entitled." Using the word "entitled," when "titled" is a more accurate and concise word annoys me. Blame it on the hard time I did at Journalism School. My journalism professors hated the word and now, but osmosis -- and the threat of being downgraded -- I'm with them.

And poor Little Laura doesn't have a clue about brevity at this point in her life. She's just eager to please the teacher and write the best damn piece she can for her teacher. As for the subject matter, propaganda much? I'm pretty sure my teacher said the school took the originals of these and gave them to incoming kindergartners. To show them how great school was. Because we said it was great.

Then they told us to tell these kindergartners the highlights of our lives -- getting to play with Butterball the hamster, learning fancy words like "habitat" and having a glamorous life that consisted of cursive and solar systems. 

Now, I didn't include the list of names in this post like I did last time I got list happy, because this one was more specific (and I don't really want to disclose personal information for people I haven't seen in years). But here's how I know this was propaganda. The list of girls I included... none of them were actually really my friends. I just put the names of the people I sat with. In assigned seating. 

Not only is Little Laura lying (AGAIN), but this time she's doing it for promotional purposes. And she didn't even manage to score a lucrative deal in the process. No endless recesses. No automatic As. No extra dessert at lunch time.

For shame, Little Laura. For shame.

As far as technique goes, this letter is better off than most of the other pieces. Little Laura misspelled "a lot," but also nailed "habitat." It's a give and take thing.

And unlike in second grade, when she went comma crazy, this time Little Laura could probably use a few extra commas. But, at least she's showing some punctuation restraint, which her journalism professors would one day preach.

One shining moment amid the blah is that Little Laura apparently knew she would one day be destined for a life of signing autographs. Instead of heading her paper properly, she gave herself a byline.

Little did Little Laura know, but more than 18 years later, she'd have the chance to put that skill to use in some Malibu sand.

All in all, the third grade writing samples are a little boring, and I'm excited for next week when we get to fourth grade and the paperwork gets more interesting and not so shamelessly promotional.

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