Perhaps it wasn't wise to chew and swallow a handful of sand the day I was given my first sandbox, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. My mother told me before she let me outside to play that I was not to eat it. Having played in the sand at my preschool, I couldn't imagine then why anyone would want to put the gritty stuff in one's mouth. So, impatient to go out to play, I just nodded rather than question her cautionary statement. I tottered barefoot up the wooden steps to the backyard and saw for the first time the object that would occupy so much of my time in the weeks to come.
It lay in the partial shade of a large oak tree, squat and green and shaped like a turtle. As I struggled with the heavy, awkward plastic cover, only the promise of day after glorious day outside in the dappled light kept me from dropping the cover and moving on to less difficult pastimes. Perseverance paid off, however, and as soon as the lid slid the rest of the way off, I knew my effort had been worth it.
The sand was beautiful and pristine, composed of white, sparkling crystals that shone like snow, or even sugar. It was free of all the nasty surprises one finds in a preschool's sandbox: no pebbles, sand-encrusted bits of candy or broken-off arms from forgotten G.I. Joe soldiers, abandoned heartlessly during their desert reconnaissance missions.
No, this sand was breathtaking and exquisite. For a reason that I still don't quite understand, my mother's cautionary tones came floating back to me on the summer breeze as I stepped into the box and happily wriggled my grass-stained toes in the glorious white expanse. Chewing on a lock of hair, I contemplated my dilemma. And certainly it was a dilemma, for if my mother had taken such pains to forbid me to eat this fascinating material, there had to be some reason for me to want to taste it in the first place.
Perhaps it was a precocious interest in science, in experimenting and finding my own answers, that led me to my final decision on the matter. It may have been the beginning of the avid curiosity about the world around me that has stuck with me even today, or a budding interest in questioning the laws and boundaries of society. It may have even simply been a rebellious desire to be bad, to do something that I knew I shouldn't do.
Whatever the reason, my decision came to me after only a moment's hesitation.
So I curled my fingers around a handful, delighting in the smooth feel of the crystals slipping between them, and lifted it to my mouth. It was delicious -- the guilty taste of being bad, I mean, of discovering new sensations and finding answers, of stepping outside the accepted rules of our anti-sand-consumption society; not the sand. The sand was, to be honest, rather disappointing.
Here are a few examples of admission essays written by Hamilton's newest students.
New Canaan, Conn.
Alice Dou Wang
West Chester, Pa.