Anna stood on her right foot, then on her left, then on her toes. “Hold still, Anna! I can’t possibly comb your hair with you dancing all around the room!” scolded Mother. Anna tried very hard to stand still, but her thoughts were not still. She was excited and a little bit frightened too.
This was Anna’s first day at a new school. Will the children like me? she wondered. Will I like them? What will my teacher be like?
Mother finally put the comb down and said, “Good-bye, dear. I hope you’ll enjoy your new school.”
Anna kissed her mother and skipped down the street, watching for other children on their way to school.
“Hi!” shouted Bobby as he came up behind her. Anna didn’t have time to answer as he zoomed past her and around the corner, pretending he was a rocket. She saw three girls come out of a house and walk toward school, but they were too far ahead for her to catch up with them. She walked to school alone.
The closer she came to the school, the slower she walked. Finally, she came to the school steps. “One, two, three, four, five,” she counted as she walked up the steps and into the building.
Anna stayed close to the wall as she listened to the children laughing in the hall. The principal had said to report to Miss Hanson in room five. Anna thought, Five, five, glad to be alive. But her legs trembled as she went into the room.
Miss Hanson greeted Anna with a pleasant smile. “Hello, dear, you must be our new student.”
Anna nodded as she looked around the room.
“I’m Miss Hanson, Anna. Why don’t you sit in that empty desk by the window?”
Just as the timid girl sat down the bell rang. Children spilled into the room like marbles rolling from a bag.
The school work was easy, for the lessons were much like those at Anna’s other school. But when Miss Hanson said, “Today we are going to be seeds,” Anna blinked her eyes in surprise. Had she heard correctly?
Miss Hanson led the children to the multi-purpose room. Anna didn’t know how to be a seed. I’m just a girl, she thought. The other children giggled and whispered in anticipation. They were happy to be playing this game. They knew how to be seeds. Miss Hanson talked about being a seed in the ground and about growing into a plant. Anna watched the children wiggle and stretch. She knew they were not seeds and she couldn’t pretend to be one. She was a girl!
When Miss Hanson excused the children that day she smiled at Anna and said, “Your work is fine, dear. I hope you’ll like it here. See you tomorrow.”
Anna did like school. She made new friends. She liked to read and she was learning her multiplication tables. But Anna simply couldn’t make believe like the other children did.
Another day when Miss Hanson said, “We can be butterflies,” Anna was the only child who did not smile. When Linda passed a scarf to each child, Anna could only watch with big eyes as the children rushed about the room waving their scarves. How can they believe they are butterflies? she wondered.
Miss Hanson encouraged Anna. “Come with me. Just flap your scarf and fly.”
Anna took a few steps, but it was no good. She was not a butterfly. She was just a girl holding a scarf. Miss Hanson put her arm around Anna’s shoulder and said, “Maybe next time, dear. Don’t feel sad that you can’t pretend to be a butterfly yet.”
Anna thought a lot about what Miss Hanson said. She thought about it at school, and she thought about it at home.
The next afternoon Miss Hanson said, “I think it’s time we do some artwork. Let’s draw flowers.”
As Susan passed out large sheets of paper, Anna sat with her elbow on the desk, chin in hand.
Flowers, fooey! thought Anna. What fun are red tulips with three tips? But when she looked around the room, she could not believe her eyes. Phil’s paper was covered with many green blossoms. Karen drew a large daisy with at least a hundred petals. Bobby’s paper was the most peculiar of all. His pink and gray flowers looked like spiders or something that would grow on Mars. How can they think up such unusual flowers? Anna wondered.
Then she smiled and put down the red crayon and picked up a blue one. “Why not?” she whispered and began drawing. She drew tall flowers and short flowers, fat flowers and thin flowers. She used every crayon in her box. It was fun. It was exciting! Anna was happy. Miss Hanson had a wide smile when she put Anna’s picture on the bulletin board.
A few days later Miss Hanson said, “This afternoon let’s all be birds.”
Anna was ready. She chose a bright orange scarf with green trim. At first she walked slowly and flapped the scarf. Then she began to feel light and graceful. She flapped her arms. She danced. She became an orange bird soaring in the sky. Anna learned to fly!
That afternoon when she returned from school, her mother asked, “What did you do today?”
Anna answered, “I was a bird!” Then she took a bite of a juicy apple and ran outside to play.