The American school system is one thing I’ve had my entire life to reflect upon. I have spent most of my fifteen years in a classroom where my creativity and yearning for individualized education is meant to be put on the back burner, only because common core criteria is more important. Of course, the essentials are necessary, like basic math, history, english, etc. There is only so much that you can drill into our heads before we realize we are just worn out kids. Over the years, my enthusiasm and excitement to learn have been destroyed by stress and force to basically sit still and shut up. We’re ignoring children’s exhaustion and opinions because of stubborn and outdated standards. We’re destroying individuality and creators because of ridiculous textbooks from the seventies. We’re teaching children to grow up and conform instead of teaching them how to think for themselves. We’re setting ourselves up for failure with this useless nonsense, absolutely useless.
They say you can’t fight fire with fire, but water would just ignite the flame.
It was learning how to ride my bike
for the first time,
and having it flip over me.
It was scrapped knees and bloody elbows.
It was having Rice Krispies every morning,
while dad rushed to get ready.
It was crying while
mommy took out my splinters.
It was yellow and bright green,
it was the sun and all the stars.
It was thinking the moon
followed me everywhere I went,
it was imagination.
It was being traumatized when
my sidewalk artwork was washed away
by the sky.
It was Bowling for Soup
playing in the car,
every damn road trip.
It was jumping off the swings
and landing onto blankets of
fresh cut grass.
It was getting sick from touching
every toy in the store I desired.
It was Disney’s Original Movies
and cuddling stuffed animals.
It was making friends with everyone I met,
and talking into fans,
and getting excited about fireflies or glow sticks.
It was being excited about everything,
which turned into being excited for close to nothing.
It was innocence,
it was childhood,
and it feels like a lifetime away.
I am more than just the numbers.
I am more than the grade I received, I am more than what the scale says,
I am more than the time on the clock,
I am more than what defines me.
I am more than the cliche I am writing about.
I want to feel like I’m more,
but it’s hard when the adults that surround me tell me
I’m smaller than them.
I have to live inside the numbers.
The numbers are the only things that matter.
I am from small spaces,
from dish soap and old sponges.
I am from the empty parking lot.
I am from the New Year Eve parties,
and toasts with cheap champagne.
I am half of the Dominican flag,
and half of the Portuguese flag.
I am from dark curly hair and glasses.
I am from the town with nothing to do,
a place where you can pin-point
every crack in the sidewalk.
I am from rhythmic beats,
from steel drums and accordions.
I am from thunderstorms,
and ocean shores.
I am from silent nods,
and quiet responses.
I am from immigrants,
I am from the nebulas.
I am from many questions,
and few answers.
I am from the place right outside
the city where dreams come true.
I am from close friends
and distant family.
I am from danger and adrenaline.
I am from art and poetry,
I am from thoughts and confusion.
I am from within myself.