It was the first day of kindergarten, my neighbour, and best friend, had moved to Salmon Arm, BC that summer leaving me to face a whole new class filled with children I had never met before. Being an introvert and extremely shy, this was absolutely terrifying for me. I found my locker right away as they were all labeled with our first names; this made me feel better knowing I would have a locker buddy and wouldn’t be all on my own. After putting my outdoor things away I turned around to look for a place to sit. The room seemed so big; there was a play kitchen, a clear water table filled with water and toys (I loved playing in water and was very excited to try it out), and five tables in the middle with a desk for the teacher beside them against the wall which had many colourful bulletin boards ready and waiting for our creative art work to be displayed on. I was comforted to find my name on a desk; once again there wasn’t a risk of having to be alone or being rejected when asking someone if I could sit with them, the decision had already been made for all of us. I sat down and arranged my school supplies on my desk and looked around at all of the other children. I noticed a girl at my locker putting her things away just as I had, she must be my locker buddy, “Sarah”, I had thought to myself as I recalled her name on the sticker next to mine. Sarah had beautiful dark skin and dark hair; I noticed she was the only one in the class that had skin that was a different colour than my own. I kept watching her in the hopes that she would be at the same table as me, maybe we could be friends. When she was finished at our locker, she went and sat at another table; I felt disappointed that I didn’t get to sit with my new locker buddy. I had been excited to tell her how she had the same name as my cousin.
Our teacher stood up in front of the class, “Good morning!” she said in a warm, cheerful, and inviting tone. I looked up at her and smiled as some of the children responded in unison, “Good morning!” She talked about all of the areas in the room we could play in, the library where we would go together to borrow books, the gym, the bathroom, and most importantly the playground, where we got to play outside during recess. I noticed everyone was wide eyed and smiling when she mentioned it.
All of a sudden the bell was ringing loudly for recess and everyone quickly walked over to their lockers putting on their outdoor shoes, getting ready to run outside to play on the playground with their new friends. As I reached my locker I saw Sarah already putting on her shoes. “Do you want to play together?” I asked her. “Yes! I want to go on the bridge on the play structure, I saw it when I got here.” she said as she grabbed my hand. Together we ran out the door straight for the bridge. We sat beside each other on the bridge with our legs dangling over the edge. She told me about how excited she was to start school and meet new friends. I told her how I was scared to meet new friends, about my cousin with the same name as her, and about my cats; I loved my cats.
Meeting Sarah is the first time I noticed someone with a different skin colour, she happened to be the only one in our class that had a different skin colour. To me this was just a fact that didn’t change my opinion of her in any way. She was a kindergarten student just as I was; she was very kind and accepting and that’s all that mattered to me. Having a best friend with Apert syndrome has made me accepting of differences starting at a young age, no matter what those differences are and has made me thankful that it is such an integral part of who I am.