Friday, June 8, 2012

I never did read so well.

When I was a kid it took me longer than anyone else to learn to read.

I had a friend - younger than me - teach me how to read outside of school. He did it because he liked me and he was my friend. I think of him a lot. I an a way, in a sense he saved my life - I no longer know him - I haven’t known him for decades.

I remember a strange event in my life that I tell people about- it freaks them out because it is bizarre and it makes no sense.

I think I was in 5th grade in about 1965. I was in my class, a usual 5th grade class in southern California with about  25 students and a teacher we all loved. We were all friends, or at least we all knew each other.

I was sent to a special class. This was in the middle of my regular class you need to know. It’s like I was whisked away suddenly. I was abducted by some other teacher - taken from my room with no real explanation other than they were there to take me, and one other student away. I was in the moment as usual - so therefore clueless.

 Anyway there I was. In this other room. Away from my regular class. This is cool something is going on. 
Something’s happing here but I don’t know what it is.

I was sat on the floor with a couple of other guys that I knew.
One from my class and the others from other grades.
We were told to take our shoes and socks off.

There were other kids in the room standing - being told to wait for some other test.

This man - nobody I have ever seen before - tied several towels (the kind used in gym class) into a single knot. 

He threw the towels at our outstretched feet and told us to untie them with our toes. Then he turned around and began to walk away.

In a heartbeat before I even knew what had happened, I had the towel untied with my toes - in a second or three. Done I cried as he walked away. 

He turned around as quick as he could for a man of thirty five. He glared at me with his eye. 
Not trusting me for my youth.

You used your hands he said.

No - I used my toes as you asked.

He glared harder as he picked up the towel. He tied it into another knot. This time he pulled harder and  made it as tight as he could. 

For some reason I looked at him as if he  were a fool, keeping it to myself.

He threw the towel at my feet again and said let’s see yo untie that.

I grasped it with my toes.

I had, and always have had long finger-like toes and strong feet.
Before his eyes and the eyes of all the others, I untied the towel with my toes, with no more effort than untying it with my hands, i flung it open like a little monkey.

I sat there as he glared at me.

What are you doing here? Get back to your class he barked.

I left the room after putting on my socks and shoes. 

I returned to my regular class.

No notice - no explanation - no note to my parents - no mention - no nothing.

And I still could not read well.

My friend and neighbor.
A kid about a year and a half younger than me. 
A kid that lived in my apartment building. 
A kid who’s mom paid me to watch him after school for an hour and a half before she got home from work (because I was older).

This kid - Kevin.

He taught me to read.(thank you Kevin)

I was dyslexic.

I am dyslexic.

My parents never knew.

I never knew.

I still don’t read well.

Words have always been a struggle for me.
Letters jump around and play tricks on me.

School failed me in that sense but I survived.

I pay my taxes.

My parents love me.

My wife loves me like nobody I have ever known.

I love my wife like nobody I have ever known.

I am alive and well - living the life.

And I teach people to make jewelry.

For what it’s worth -

Fake Tattoo in Kauai

Living The Life

1 comment:

  1. I got pulled from my class in 4th grade. Like you I couldn't read. The put me front of a LCD screen that scrolled the words one line at a time, one sentence at a time. This slowed it all down enough for me, so I could read it. I now can read, but it helps if the words on the page are spaced apart. I sometimes use a book mark and move it down the page to help see the lines one by one. Otherwise they jump all over the page. It's a form of dyslexia that I've overcome.

    I don't understand the towel untying test you had done or what it was supposed to prove.

    The next year I got in trouble because I never did my homework. The teacher wrote it onto the chalk board, but I couldn't see it. My vision had decayed and I needed glasses but I just thought that was how things looked. It wasn't until my mother asked me why I wasn't doing my homework that I knew I was missing anything. Nobody told me there were lessons on the board that I was supposed to be reading.

    My daughter is now leaving High School at 16. It's too noisy, she tells me, and when I went to pick her up early at school, I could hear why. It is too noisy. Even the library is noisy. It's almost as if the teachers having given up on providing a quiet learning environment. I am hoping that SBCC will be better for her.

    We both take jewelry lessons from Carl. It's one of the best parts of my life.