Dr. Suess

"And will you succeed? Yes indeed! Yes indeed! Ninety Eight and Three Quarters guarenteed!"

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The first time I experienced confusion

Last year, I was reading one of Dr. Phil's books. Don't remember which one for sure, I think it was "Self Matters". He has you pin point certain points in your life and tells a story of when Oprah first realized that she was smart and that it made a difference for her. For me, it was a light bulb moment. Tonight, watching a re run of Everybody Loves Raymond, I was reminded of reading that book, and having that memory and what it revealed to me. It was the first time I really remember being confused. I was in my kindergarten classroom, I was the youngest in the class, and had missed the cut off day by only 9 days. California, back then (don't know how it is now) had a cutoff for kindergarten of being 5 by December 1, and my birthday was November 21. So, 9 days later, and I wouldn't have been able to start that year. I was plenty smart enough, though. I was the only kid in the class that could count to 100. The school had a kindergarten/1st grade library and a 'big kids library'. I was the only kid in the whole kindergarten first grade that was allowed to go to the 'big kids library' to check out books because I could read all the books in our kindergarten/first grade library. I could spell, and had a speller, none of the other kindergarten kids did. I was writing little stories with my drawings, when the other kids were drawing pictures and drawing a single letter to represent their picture (A is for Apple and I'd write "The bird ate the worm in the apple because it was easier than getting the worm from the ground.") But I was also extremely active, and other than Harold, I had no friends. I couldn't seem to get a long with anyone, everyone made me cry every day. The teacher was always telling me to sit down, or sit still, or to put both feet on the floor, or to do my own work and not my neighbors ... and that's what the meeting was for that afternoon. The teacher said that I wasn't mature enough to keep up with the class. I can remember my mom crying, and I can hear my step dad's voice saying "we understand" I can't picture him there, so I must have been sitting in his lap. The teacher and my mom explained to me that I needed another year to 'grow up' so I'd be going to pre school for another year & come back to kindergarten the next year when I was a bit older. I can remember the room spinning, it really seemed to be moving in and out of focus ... and it looked like I was suddenly in a place I'd never seen before. I had no idea what they meant, all I could think of was "But you're supposed to learn how to count in school, I can count, you're supposed to learn how to spell in school and I can spell" They were telling me that it didn't matter, my being smart didn't matter, my not being able to sit still was more important and said more about me than how smart I was. My inability to sit still was important. Being smart wasn't. For the rest of my life, that seemed to set the tone ... my intelligence didn't ever seem to cut me a break, it always seemed to make a difference that I couldn't sit still ..that I was socially inept ... So, today, I was watching Everybody loves Raymond as they talked about holding back one of the twins in preschool ... and my heart broke ... I had to make that choice for my son, so I know what my parents went through. I tend to blame my health and social status on my lack of being anything ... but the truth is ... in the back of my head is this little 5 year old girl saying ... but it doesn't matter ... you still can't sit still, so it doesn't matter how smart you are ...


  1. What a moving story. I graduated from first grade to kindergarden myself, many many years ago. I know jsut how it felt. I just stumbled across your blog from the blogger dashboard & I'll save it to my favorites list so I can find my way back here. You're welcome to visit my blog at: http://cheesebee.blogspot.com/ any time. Have a good day. - woody

  2. There's a difference now though. Back then, being smart wasn't as important as sitting still in their chairs.

    But now...it's YOUR chair.

    Squirm away, you've earned it! And, you were right at the very beginning. Being smart IS more important.

  3. Now I just have to find a place to PUT that chair.

    Wondering tonight if anyone is ever going to take me seriously ... my pastor does, I have friends who do, certainly on line friends who do ... but ... society as a whole? They see me as an overweight disabled person living on social security disability ... bottom of the social totem pole ..no seniority ...no clout.

  4. hmmm.

    The people who matter most to you see you as a warm, giving, generous, talented, intelligent, beautiful woman.

    Why care how "they" see you? Until you believe that you are a warm, giving, generous, talented, intelligent, beautiful woman... what "they" think will always matter.

  5. hmmmmm you sound like my pastor, my therapist ... etc etc etc ...

  6. Sorry! I'll try to sound less therapist and more friend.

  7. Hi Dreaming

    The line "....in the back of my head is this little 5 year old girl saying...... "

    jumped out at me because it has been on my mind quite a bit recently.

    I realised my own perception of who I am is influenced largely by the way I was thought of as a child, and childhood memories. Even though I am a grown man in his 30s my concern about what certain people (only the ones I care about) think of me and desire not to offend or upset others is governed by memories of a little boy.

    I can relate to the feeling. I know how difficult it is to change, but understanding why is a good starting point.

  8. In this case, sounding like my therapist or my pastor ... is a good thing .. it puts you in good company ... it just means I need to listen more!

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