Fontana Kaiser 10:41 AM to William and Deborah Gray
When I was seven months old I was taken to Canada to meet my great grandparents. Although I obviously do not remember this trip, it marked the beginning of the developing of my great passion for traveling. Each trip I have taken has taught me something about myself, the world, given me a broader perspective, and strengthened my yearning for adventure.
I learned to swim in my grandparents' pool when I was a little over two and a half. Swimming has taught me more about myself and others than anything else in my life. The countless hours I spent in the pool have definitely molded me into the person I am today. The sport has lead me to making countless friends and has led to opportunities that I would otherwise have been unable access.
I learned to read when I was three years old. As a child I my mother read to me constantly and in every car ride there was always an audiobook playing. Once I started school I would often use my recess and lunch to tackle another chapter. As I got older I learned I had to set specific times of the year aside to read (specifically summer or vacations) because once I pick up a book I am unable to put it down. Reading is one of my favorite pastimes because it allows me to travel to places and see the worlds thru the eyes of the people who live in them. Books allow you to escape your life, unwind, and learn all without leaving the comfort of your favorite spot.
My parents both worked full time so by the time I entered preschool the fact that I was away from them was not new and I was extremely independent. Since I was so young I was placed in a class with other three year olds which was extremely boring. Every time I would get into an activity they would have me switch and I didn’t enjoy being with people who did not have the same vision for each activity as I did (only child syndrome?!!). My teacher told my parents I didn't belong in her class & recommended u get put into the pre-k class. The director told my family there was no room in the older class. After months of waiting everyone was frustrated. My mother decided the best move for me would be to allow me to stay with my grandparents who could watch and teach me while my parents were at work. Wednesday afternoons my mother would drop me off at their house in Alta Loma. Friday afternoons she would pick me up and we would drive home. Although it was the best move the commute was taxing for her and it was too much time away. The next year my parents decided to enroll me in kindergarten.
I started school at Meadow Creek when I was four years old. I had been exposed to classroom setting long before then not only because I attended a preschool for a short while but also because my mother was an elementary school teacher. At this point in time I loved school and was always excided to learn. The original plan was to hold me back in either first or second grade but since I knew how to read and write it became apparent that it would be a waste of time to repeat a grade when I had mastered the skills.
I was very sick when I was younger. I had 8 medications I took on a daily basis and I frequented ear, nose, & throat specialist, the asthma specialist, our family dr. Unfortunately, the “best plan” laid out by each professional contradicted the other. The ear, nose, & throat specialist said tubes. The asthma specialist said no tubes. The asthma guy thought that swimming would help. After hours of research my parents decided to put me on the local club team. The first year I asked everyday if we had to go because I hated it so much. My mom almost always said yes. By the end of the first year I was healthy enough to stop taking all of my medication. For the first time, despite my appearance (I was short, frail, and my hair wouldn’t grow) I was not horribly ill.
During my early time on Yucaipa Swim Team I met the Rigsbys. Emily, who was the same age as me, quickly became my friend. She is someone I, despite he being slightly younger than me, looked up to. Emily and I have stayed friends over the years and I now consider her to be my biological sister.
In 2007 I ran into yet another problem with school. My calendar did not match the calender my mother had. We almost never had overlapping vacations (except summer) and when a spot happened to open up at her school I made the jump. This was very hard for me and I had to completely start over. My swim friends were no longer at my school and it became increasingly difficult to see best friend Brooke. Despite being very hard at first, I am eternally grateful that I switched school districts. Not only did I have more time with my family but also I got to grow up in the BUSD system and I was fortunate enough to have amazing teachers and friends.
In third grade I decided that I wanted to do an ocean race – the day of the race. For years my mother, who swam both in high school and collegiately, had been participating in the La Jolla Rough water swim. I had an oxymoronic relationship with the ocean. I both loved all the creatures but was terrified of it at the same time. That day was the first time I really faced one of my major fears. After that day I began to crave the adrenaline rush and the since of accomplishment that came along with doing things I was frightened of.
At 10 years old I started middle school. Looking back these years were kind of monotone. Although moving on from elementary school is definitely a milestone there were no large changes in my personality or outlook on life. Although I did learn some important and useful skills such as time management (something Im still developing) or finding innovative ways to tackle problems, begin friendships that were strengthened in High School, further my respect and interest in things such as our nation, music, and theater there were not any moments that I would altered me in any major way.