Monday, January 16, 2017


It was only later that I discovered the underlying reasons for the move.  My parents purchased a home in neighboring Wilmette.  The contract was signed and a date was set.  Being in second grade, I doubt I worried about the details.  Maybe I was concerned about enrolling in a new school, I don't remember.  It was nothing in comparison to the tumult I would feel when we relocated after the wedding, before high school.

When my dad died, I assume the contract was nullified.  The overwhelming upheaval to our lives was so great, that a seven year old boy couldn't possibly comprehend the complexity of adult decision making.  We were going to move and then we weren't.  My dad was with us one day, and then he wasn't.

And my life was afloat in uncertainty.  Stalwart in the idea of becoming a physician like my father, I struggled with a learning disability profound enough to keep me well below the level of my peers.  I sat in homeroom coloring while my classmates read from textbooks. I had an army of school provided tutors as well as a private learning specialist.  The picture would have been fairly bleak if I had been old enough to recognize.

But children can be unfalteringly ignorant toward melancholy.  Their unfettered engines continue to run.  They continue to run free.

My two memories left from that year color almost all that I am. In the living room surrounded by family, as my mother whispered in my ear that dad was gone.  And months later, the day my teacher placed a textbook in front of my face and I read.  Surprised, she place another.  A slightly more complex.  And I read.  Then another.  And another.  The children looked up in awe as a pile of textbooks formed on the side of my desk.

My reading and writing improved so much, it was decided that I indeed could matriculate to third grade. Which was incidentally the reason my parents had planned to move in the first place.  They were going to hold me back, and felt it would be less devastating if I transferred to a school where none of the kids knew me.

Years later, my mom would remarry and move us into the same district that I narrowly missed in grade school.

And I would thrive.

1 comment:

The Van Deventers said...

What a lovely story and so pertinent to what kids are facing today.

Chaos in childhood is experienced emotionally and not cognitively because we don't really know what is happening. Yet we carry the emotions with us into adulthood when facts are long forgotten.

That you survived, prospered and had someone to give you a book is heartwarming. And yet we pay our teachers to little for all of the help they do in raising future generations. Just one person can make all the difference, be it teacher, coach, aunt/uncle or other. They show us another way that we did not know.

I, too, had teaching/learning problems but persevered to a Ed.D so it is not what I or you know, it is the help you get along the way.

Thanks for putting your story out there.