Friday, September 4, 2009

Sibling Assignment #106: Star Pupil...Meh

Silver Valley Girl beseeched the plump sugar-winged angels of the Internets to deliver this assignment to me and InlandEmpireGirl:

Write about one of your earliest memories of being in school.
I don't know how it happened.

One day, when I was still four years old, I could read. No one really taught me. I just started reading out loud one day. I loved reading stuff about states in our home set of the World Book Encyclopedia and knew the states and capitals before I started kindergarten.

It's just the way it was.

Consequently, I never had to wait for Mrs. Peterson's instructions in kindergarten before working in our workbook. The instructions were at the bottom of the page and I read them myself and whipped right through whatever we were supposed to do.

At home, I was a novelty act my dad could parade out. When his friends came over to the house, he'd have them friends a state, or a capital, and I could tell what the capital was or what state the city was a capital of.

I didn't mind that too much. These performances made my dad proud and astonishing his friends was kind of a thrill.

One day, however, Mrs. Peterson did something I didn't much like.

Our kindergarten class met in the basement of Washington Elementary school, which was the old high school and was now also the junior high. I'd never been upstairs where the big kids had classes, but one day Mrs. Peterson took me upstairs. To me, it seemed like way upstairs.

Mrs. Peterson wore a lot of perfume. I later learned she wore it to cover the smell of cigarettes. The perfume smell made me feel a little sick as we climbed the stairs, making the nausea I was feeling because of my fear of going upstairs even stronger.

My memory tells me we went to the fourth grade classroom, but I'm not sure of that.

Mrs. Peterson had a book with her and when we got to the classroom, Mrs. Peterson had me stand in front of all these big kids, she handed me the book, and told me to read out loud from it. It was a cold reading. I'd never seen the book before.

What was this about? Were the fourth graders being told to shape up and improve their reading because there was a squirt in kindergarten who could read and if he could do it, they ought to be able to do better work?

Was it some weird form of show and tell? Was I Mrs. Peterson's remarkable show and tell kid?

Or was it back to being a novelty act?

I don't know.

I do know I was scared to death.

Even at five years old, I had this foreboding sense that the fourth graders would hate having a punk like me paraded in front of them to read.

Even at five years old, I had visions of getting pantsed in the alley that led to Roger Pearson's house or of the big kids trapping me and putting me in a waste bin or, at the very least, being the fourth graders' most hated whippersnapper.

I read. I did what I was instructed to do. I didn't miss a single word.

I could see faces in the room darken with resentment.

I survived the aftermath. No kids hunted me down to get even.

All I know is that I hated being presented to the fourth graders as a star pupil. In later years, as I succeeded in school at the elementary level, every once in a while a parent would ask one of my friends why he couldn't be more like me and do better schoolwork or get better grades.

I hated that.

Aside from hating having my friends occasionally compared to me, no long lasting damage came from this incident and it wasn't that long before things evened out and nothing I did was that remarkable in school anymore.

But, when I think back to early memories of being in school, this one stands out.

I can't for the life of me, though, figure out what the teachers involved thought would be gained by having me demonstrate my reading prowess in front of fourth graders.

I have to just scratch my head and wonder, "What the hell?".

1 comment:

inlandempiregirl said...

I never even heard this story. I am surprised you weren't in Ripley's Believe it or Not.