The six-year-old walks proudly into her kindergarten classroom. She has completed her first homework assignment ever - a drawing of a rainbow. She can't wait to show her teacher.
She spies her friend Michelle, who is holding a picture of a vibrant, if slightly uneven, rainbow. "Hi Jane! C'mere!" Michelle calls.
"I like your rainbow," Jane says. "Did you have to press really hard with your crayons to make the colors so dark?"
"Yes," Michelle replies. "I broke my yellow crayon."
They both shake their heads sadly. Broken crayons are no fun at all.
Michelle notices Jane's picture. "Wow, that is really good," she says. "It looks like it could be in the Care Bears. Did you trace it?"
"No, I was just really careful," Jane replies, trying hard not to sound too proud. She knows it is not nice to brag.
Ms. Rails calls the class to the Storytime Mat. The class sits Indian-style in a circle with their pictures in front of them. "We are going to write your name on your rainbow picture! And then we're going to hang them on the wall for everyone to see!" she says. "Won't that be fun!"
The teacher squeals over each one as she helps the students write their names at the bottom. Jane's mom calls Ms. Rails "enthusiastic." Jane isn't sure what it means, but her mom raises one eyebrow when she says it. Jane hopes she can raise one eyebrow someday. When she tries it, both of her eyebrows go up at the same time.
Jane eyes the other pictures as Ms. Rails makes her way around the circle. Some of the rainbows seem too skinny or fat, and some have the wrong colors. Some are not even arched. Hers is definitely the standout picture. Jane supposes this means that she is very Creative.
"Very good!" Ms. Rails exclaims as she makes her way to Jane's picture. "You wrote your name all by yourself!"
Jane was expecting a slightly better reaction than this. "But what about the picture?" she asks hopefully.
"Oh yes, sweetie! It's SOOOOOO pretty!" Ms. Rails says, barely giving Jane's picture a second glance. She has already moved on to help LeCedrick write his name on his rainbow.
Jane is a bit disappointed until she remembers that the pictures are going to be hung up on the wall in time for Parent-Teacher night. Everyone will see the rainbow, and her parents will know how Creative their daughter is.
Satisfied, Jane practices raising one eyebrow while she waits for Ms. Rails to finish helping the rest of the class. Both up. Both down. Hmmm... Maybe if she wrinkles her nose a little...
"Want to play Rabbits?" Michelle asks. Jane snaps out of her daydream. No one is in the circle anymore. It seems that Christina has just shown up late to class, and Ms. Rails has sent them to their Play Stations while she talks with Christina's father.
Jane can see Christina's homework picture from across the room. Her heart sinks into her stomach. She walks to the masking tape edge of the Make Believe Station to get a closer look.
Christina didn't just draw a rainbow - she drew a hundred, or maybe a million. Every square inch of her paper is covered in vibrant rainbows. The colors are dark and even. Christina had to have broken some crayons. She might have even used some up. The picture makes Jane feel like she has fallen into a kaleidescope. It will be years before Jane learns about prisms, and tessellations, and MC Escher - things Christina seems to have discovered intuitively.
Christina's father leaves, and Ms. Rails calls the class over to hang up their pictures.
Jane puts hers in the corner near the bottom. She keeps her mouth shut when Mark R. hangs his picture over hers, hiding the name "J-a-N-E" from view.