When I was in 1st grade my mom realized from something I said that I’d been stuck in Special Ed classes. They hadn’t discussed it with my parents or anything, as far as I can tell they didn’t actually test me other than the Kindergarten teacher gave me some smudgy photocopies of what I think was the Porteus Maze Test. I’d actually been doing mazes for a year or so and didn’t like them. They didn’t make SENSE to me. If I could see the entire picture, why did I need to stumble through the pathways? If I were IN a maze, I could just climb up onto the wall and walk along it, skipping the blundering about portion. So I used to “solve” mazes by just drawing a straight line from the start to the end, a sort of “fuck you” to mazes in general. When I entered Kindergarten, I was reading at a 3rd grade level, writing, and doing addition and subtraction. Class time was taken up with identifying the Alphabet… a letter a day. I was bored out of my mind, and over thought things. FOR INSTANCE, we covered what patterns were. So XCXCXC is a pattern. MVDMVDMVD is a pattern. They’re things that repeat. I claimed that ICLGTWVD was a potential pattern… all you had to do was repeat, just because you didn’t SEE something didn’t mean it didn’t EXIST, all things have the POTENTIAL to be patterns. Soon after that I started my Special Ed career.
My mom found out and raised hell.
I was forced to read out loud to several different teachers to prove my skills, and I was given some placement exams or something and they talked about skipping me a few grades which was ridiculous… I was in no way emotionally ready to skip a few grades. I wound up visiting the Principal regularly (weekly? daily?) to read to him privately which filled me with terror although I can’t say why. Nor can I say why he wanted to meet with me privately.
Anyway, I wound up starting 2nd grade at a different school, making the jump from public school to private… to a small Catholic school.
Kindergarten and First Grade I took the bus to and from school. It was free, part of having a public education. But private school? You have to pay extra for the bus. So my mom dutifully dropped me off on the first day of school.
It was a really weird experience, starting school in a uniform, a tiny class full of people who’d known each other since they were born, whose parents had all gone to school together and attended Mass together. They sang hymns in class that I was unfamiliar with despite attending CCD regularly and Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation… hymns I never encountered anywhere else… and I never learned the lyrics to them. I was really far behind the rest of the class thanks to spending a full school year doing nothing but glue cotton balls to construction paper and sort tiles by color and pet fluffy bunnies. I was overwhelmed and awkward and the nun who taught religion class (and English also? She taught us a lot but I don’t remember exactly what) was very physical and would snatch people by the hair, would lock them in the dark cloak room.
And at the end of the day I stood in the parking lot and waited for my mom to come get me.
Our school calendar was way off when compared with public school. We started school earlier in the year, earlier in the day, and ended earlier in the day. I think we ended later in the year though… we had more holidays than public school did or something. But we got out about half an hour or 45 minutes or something before public school. I waited and waited and waited and finally, at home, my mom looked up and saw the bright yellow buses dropping off the neighborhood kids and didn’t see me and remembered that she was supposed to pick me up from school.
So she piled my brothers in the car or dropped them off with a baby sitter or whatever, I don’t remember, and went to get me.
At that point I was pretty convinced nobody would ever come get me and I would die there alone. I was kind of a morbid kid.
But looking back on it, it’s really weird that no teachers or staff or anybody noticed me.
As it turned out at that school, the staff managed to not see a lot of stuff where I was concerned.
(this post brought to you by the fact that my kid is starting school at the end of the month.)
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