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Topic: First Day of School (06/28/04)
TITLE: Give Me Reading...Or
By L.M. Lee
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My family had uprooted for my dad's return to college. Textbooks flash flooded our small house. Our home took on the mortuary silence of a library and reading reigned.
As a highly observant five year, I quickly surmised one very important fact:
I had to learn to read!
That was the undeniable truth. Nothing else mattered. I had to get into first grade as quickly as humanly possible and learn how to read before my daddy vanished behind a storm serge of books, never to be seen again.
I paced through the long summer months like a caged cheetah. Would Labor Day ever come? How much more of summer could I sweat through?
Finally, to the enormous relief of everyone, Labor Day came and the next day I would be starting school. Hurrah!
Daddy took me to school in the family car on his way to class. I felt so grown-up. Daddy was going to class. I was going to class. Life was good.
“Good” only lasted about ten minutes.
School was nothing like I had anticipated. Naturally there were desks, blackboards, brightly decorated bulletin boards, storage cubby holes, an aquarium, a terrarium and even a table displaying a mock-up of prehistoric life replete with dinosaurs and a fully operational volcano. There were even nineteen other children.
It was everything a normal first grader could want – but not me. To my stark amazement – there were no books! Not one – anywhere! None!
What is wrong with this picture?
Panic gripped my heart. Something was truly amiss. How could my daddy have left me at this terrible place? There had to be a mistake!
I kept trying to get the teacher’s attention. Where were the books? She brushed off my frantic pleadings like annoying dandruff. My zeal eroded into shear terror.
I was trapped into mindless first grade activities for the remainder of the day. I had to color, mold play-dough, attend recess, eat lunch, take a nap, eat snacks and even interact with the other children…but I was never allowed to open first textbook. Not one moment of my time was spent in the pursuit of literature.
I was wounded to the core! I had been deceived and coerced into a lie! I was outraged.
Suddenly I wondered – are the other children aware of the evil that had been perpetrated upon us.
I panned the room.
Not a single one! They had all been seduced by the magic of finger painting. Poor misguided babes…sigh.
But what was I to do? I was captured in this travesty surrounded by unknowing innocents…and I did not know for how long. They did not teach me how to tell time the first day of school either.
Yes, it was all a plot, but by whom? Who had masterminded this diabolical scheme?
I pondered a list of possible culprits. No one was presumed innocent. Every adult was suspect. They had all been a part of concocting this atrocious conspiracy.
At 3:30 p.m. the dismissal bell rang and our teacher lined us up for bus rides or parent pick-ups. Such relief swept over me when I saw my daddy. Surely he would rescue me from this “Room of Ruse!”
All the way home I ranted about the intolerable atrocities I had been subjected to. How wretched the teacher had been insisting that I color and play – what was wrong with that woman! Didn’t she understand what was at stake! Didn’t she know I had to learn how to read!
Looking back I can only imagine my dad’s perspective on my disappointment. He probably found it a mildly amusing diversion for the drive home.
But no one found my tirades even remotely entertaining the next nine months when I refused to go to school every day.
“Give me reading or give me death!”
Okay, may be my parents exaggerated a little when they told me about my passion for reading…but not by much!
© 6/28/04 Lissa M. Lee