As I'm rapidly approaching (gulp) 40 years old, I'm trying to get into the habit of recalling childhood memories before they disappear into the black hole of my brain. Not the traumatizing memories you dump on your therapist, or the silly ones you may recant after a few too many drinks, but the memories of how you developed as a human being into this world.
I was driving down the highway a few weeks ago and for whatever reason, I began to think back to the time before I knew how to read. I remember being 4 or 5 years old and absolutely terrified that I would never learn to read. The black squiggly shapes printed on paper that people called "letters" and "words" and "sentences" where like hieroglyphics to me - how in the world was I expected to read this stuff in a year! My neighbor that was the same age, began learning to read in kindergarten. She was gonna make me look bad - damn overachiever! So I pretty much accepted that it wasn't possible for this gigantic achievement. I'm not sure how other people did it, but they must have had some magic that I didn't have.
Then first grade rolls around. This was the year that supposedly I was going to learn to read and write. My teacher's name was Mr. Carter. I can see his face now and the ties he would wear. He seemed so much older than me (which he was) but he was probably only 30 years old at the most. I remember him being a gentle man and very friendly.
To be honest, most of first grade is a blur to me, but I remember sitting in my bedroom and using old flash cards for homework. These flash cards must have been magical, because by the end of the year I could read and write perfectly fine! Maybe school had something to do with it too : ) I was just a good as my neighbor. I could read and write sentences! I could recognize words, and remember new ones. I learned how to spell too. And it turns out that reading and writing was pretty easy. All that worrying for nothing.
So to celebrate National Reading Month this March I would like to thank Mr. Carter, wherever he is, for being a supportive teacher and helping me learn to read. And thank you old, magical flash cards.