I was born and bred in the city, so squirrels and pigeons were the animals that inhabited my landscape. For me, they were annoyances to be shooed away rather than fascinating examples of separate species to be observed. It wasn't until I was an adult that I noticed the many squirrels' nests high up in the trees of my local park or the eerie whistling sound made by a pigeon's furious flapping.
The experiences I had with "wildlife" as a youngster were generally fraught with anxiety. I darted around the house with a tin can trying to scoop up an errant chipmunk while my mother hopped up and down in a corner. I watched an older girl release a grasshopper in the bay on Fire Island, and while everyone shrieked in amazement because it did a perfect sidestroke, I looked away from the drowning creature.
I fancied myself a writer. I wrote a 60 page "novel" in fifth grade that was essentially a catalog of a young girl's pets and friends. Nothing happened in the book, but there were a few charming touches. The sheepdog was named Mishap (I thought it rhymed with Bishop), and in my mispronunciation, it made a perfect sheepdog name. In an effort to use descriptive language, I invented a host of adverbs, such as "smilingly".
The only time I went to the principal's office was because of my writing. In fifth grade, we had a creative writing piece due every Friday, and my "friend" rightly assumed that I had a backlog of pieces. She felt it within her rights to demand one of my extra compositions to hand in. I wouldn't go along with the idea--either because I felt it wasn't ethical, or because I enjoyed seeing this dominant girl unsettled, I don't remember. One thing led to another in a gigantic downward spiral, and we both landed in the principal's office at the end of the day.