I started playing school when my sister Sara was a toddler and I was in first grade at Stella Maris Academy. My first encounters with instruction had not been school-like at all – they were all play. La Jolla Country Day’s nursery class met in a shingled Irving Gill cottage where my favorite past time was standing at the picture window which overlooked the Pacific Ocean’s blue expanse of water and sky.
At La Jolla Elementary School’s kindergarten, my favorite activity was playing with blocks, especially on Fridays when we could spend the entire morning designing whatever we wanted. I built airports that took up half the classroom and Miss Keys indulged me as this required more blocks and floor space than other students’ towers and houses. Miss Keys never made me play with dolls in the kitchen corner. In fact, I never went into the kitchen center all year. We were supposed to rotate centers, but I pleaded to skip my turn so I could continue painting at the easel or shelving empty cereal boxes in the grocery corner. At school I wanted a break from the demands of crying, gurgling babies. Miss Keys let me be.