“Please, Mom? Just one more story…”
Alright… just one more.
On the first day of first grade, the vicious monster that was to be called Miss Jackson mispronounced my name. She tried four variations before I corrected her.
On the second day, she didn’t pronounce my name at all. She told the class my name was not proper for a little girl, and she would call me by my middle name from that day forward. And she did.
First graders were divided into groups according to reading level. There were three levels: “Blue Bird”, “Robin”, and “Crow”.
I suppose first grade expectations were quite low, because the groups were divided solely based upon Miss Jackson’s opinion, expert or otherwise.
I was plunked down into the “Crow” group, and given a simplistic Dick and Jane book to work through. I tried to tell Miss Jackson I’d been reading since before I left Kindergarten. But Kindergarten was thirty miles away. I was stuck with Miss Jackson and her “Crows”.
I still read real books at night to both Mama and my two-year old sister.
Blondie usually slept on a pallet with me, and I had to let her choose which books to read. We had plenty of books: Disney stories, a few Golden Books, fairy tales, Beverly Cleary, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, but my sister usually chose her favorite- Lady and The Tramp.
I read Lady and The Tramp often enough to memorize every page, but Blondie would not go to sleep unless I read two whole chapters. And believe me, even at two years, she knew full well when I tried to skip. Some nights she whined until I read a third chapter, just to get her to hush.
Every morning, as quickly as I could, I completed all the activities assigned to the “Crows”. I started bringing my own books from home. I felt triumphant, believing I’d discovered a perfect solution to wasting all my reading time on Blondie every night. My solution was perfect- until Miss Jackson caught me reading Ralph S. Mouse. She snatched away my book, and sent me to the office.
Mama was called (at work!!) to school for a conference. I was evidently an incorrigible child, at the ripe old age of seven. I waited in the hallway, swinging my feet, daydreaming away the terror and perils of first grade.
I was summoned into the inner sanctum that every child must fear synonymous with grade-school hell. Miss Jackson started to speak, but Mama cut her short. She snatched a book from the Principal’s desk and said very slowly, “Pick a page, and read. Aloud.” I recognized Mama’s angry voice.
I opened the book to its middle, and read clearly, until Mama took the book and placed it back on the desk. I was excused and returned to the hallway. I never went back to Miss Jackson’s class after that day.
And I still cringe when I hear the word “crow”.
Be blessed, Y’all.