When I was little, I hadn’t a care in the world. I’d frolic around in sprinklers and on swing sets, and the biggest event of my day was making sure I pedaled my Tonka three-wheeler fast enough to make it home in time for dinner.
My favorite place to be was at my neighbors’ house. I was there often — my two best friends, a brother and a sister, lived over there, so why would I be anywhere else? Plus, they had cool toys to play with that were way more fun than playing alone with the Barbies I had strewn across my bedroom floor.
There was one toy at my neighbors’ house, however, that I hated. It was a video game, actually, called “Sesame Street 1-2-3” or something like that. One of the settings brought you to outer space, where Grover, dressed in an astronaut’s uniform, would float in the air over a series of numbers. There also was a face in the moon. Whenever you got a math problem right, the moon face would shake its head in delight and make a happy noise. But when you didn’t get the problem right, well, all hell broke loose for me. The face would frown, and the sound the game made in response to the mistake was a fiercely negative — and for some reason, frightening — sound for me to hear in my young age.
Every time I heard that sound, I’d scream and run out of the room, tears streaming down between the tiny fingers that covered my face.