Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Sept. 5, 2008

Time capsule

When our daughters started school, one of my goals was to keep their school papers organized. I didn't think it would be a big task. I had purchased three-ring binders and plastic page protectors so all I needed to do was add items as they came in.

I did a pretty good job up until 2001 - when Mariya was a sophomore in high school and Katie was in third grade. But that year I reverted to my "pile" system, whereby everything was stacked on the kitchen hutch. Before long, math papers, book reports and rainbow pictures became interspersed with newspaper clippings, team photos and spelling lists. At the end of each school year, I transferred the piles to boxes and put the boxes in various locations throughout the house - primarily in places where I couldn't see them. Out of sight, out of mind.

But a couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to go through them and weed stuff out. I found the boxes on shelves, in closets and under dressers. I carried them into the living room, sat down on the floor and started sorting.

It didn't take long before I had several bags of trash. I put what was left - which was still a considerable amount - into file folders labeled with the year and grade.

But when I came to Katie's third grade papers, I discovered something that wouldn't fit in a flat file folder. The tube-shaped object was covered with yellow paper and tied with plain white string. Written on the outside were the words "Katie, August 24, 2001." A cloud shape was drawn around the words and beside the "cloud" was a small rainbow of red, green and purple.

I carefully unwrapped the yellow paper. Inside was a paper-towel tube that contained several papers. I unrolled them one by one. The first was a photo of Katie standing in front of the grade school. Then came a traced outline of her hand, a cursive pre-test, several timed math tests, a self-portrait, a list of her goals for the year, a list of her "all-time favorites" and a sheet with her likes and dislikes.

Among her goals were to help out with cooking at home and to do better in science in school. Her list of all-time favorites included the number one million, the color purple and the movie "The Mummy Returns." Egypt was listed as a place she'd like to visit. Our cat Cookie, her toys, her room, animals and trees ranked as things she really liked while spiders, cleaning her room, liver and taking out the trash made the dislike list.

When I asked Katie what she would put on such a list today, she responded that her favorite number is 44, which was her eighth grade basketball jersey number. Other top-rated items had also changed. Favorites now include the color yellow and the movie "V for Vendetta." However, Cookie and her room still make the like list while spiders and taking out the trash are still things she doesn't care for. And she still wants to visit Egypt.

I asked Katie if she remembered the tube or making its contents. She didn't.

So I e-mailed Debbie Conrad, Katie's third-grade teacher, to find out what the story was.

"We made time capsules the first week of school and opened them the last day," she replied. "It was really fun to see how the kids had changed. Katie must have wrapped hers up again. I'm glad you kept it."

So am I . . . it was fun for this mother to see the changes, too!

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