Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Work of Play

Note ~ I posted this late Tuesday, in anticipation of Julie's Hump Day Hmmmm. That still counts, doesn't it? You can find the other contributors here: http://theartfulflower.blogspot.com/2008/01/hump-day-hmm-for-january-30-2008-sweet.htmlI've talked about my sister before; how she makes such beautiful dolls and how she imbued the world for me with magic from early on, but not, I think, about another gift that she gave me.

As the oldest, my sister naturally went to school first. One of her favorite games during that time was to play School, where she was the teacher and my brothers and I were the students. Of course we were quite a naughty and disruptive class, my older brother invariably being sent to the principal for disciplinary measures, and my younger brother continually falling off the front seat of the old antique schoolhouse desk, but I think, for me, more than a little of what she was play-teaching actually sank in.

I don't remember ever actually learning how to read, as a child. When I went to kindergarten it was assumed that none of us could read, so the teacher started from scratch with the ABCs and the basic colors, etc. She must not have been a particularly perceptive teacher, because she told my parents that she thought I might be a little on the retarded side, because I was quiet and rarely talked during class. Honestly, all I remember of the woman was her massive thighs, tightly clad in support hose, so they had a distinctive swish when she walked or sat, which (I don't know why) fascinated me.

What she didn't know would most certainly fill a book; she certainly never discovered that the reason I said very little in class was due to being bored out of my mind. I wasn't interested in learning the ABCs because my sister had already taught me them, as well as how to read, and if you know me, then you know I was born knowing my colors, or at least acquired the knowledge shortly afterwards! I don't recall the teacher ever really teaching us much more than separate words in kindergarten, but when I went to first grade, I knew how to read, and not just a smattering, or laboriously. I can remember feeling extremely irritated when other kids were called on to read, because of how badly they would read! I was invariably somewhere else in the book, having lost all patience with listening to another kid stumble and grope through "See Dick. See Dick run. Run Dick, run. Oh, oh, oh. Dick runs fast." For crying out loud - it's a worse plot than a soap opera and just as predictable! How hard can it be to read the same three words?

In the past few years, with the struggle I've had with my youngest son's reading, I have turned to my first and best teacher many times, for advice and ideas of how to jump start his interest. When that breakthrough finally happened last week, she was there celebrating it as well, saying,

"It's so telling what book geeks you and I are that we get so excited over our kids reading...it's the BEST feeling when they finally get it!"

It is indeed the best feeling Cin! So if I never said it before, then I want to say to my first and best teacher, my sister, Thank You - it has made all the difference, for not only me, but for my kids as well!


slouching mom said...

Oh this hit home for me. I too was reading early, and I too was so quiet that no one figured out -- for some time! -- how well I could really read.

What a nice tribute to your sister.

hele said...

I got so tired of waiting for the end of the story that I stole my first reader and told my mom the teacher said we need to read through it before the next day.

flutter said...

sounds like your sister rocks as much as you do.

liv said...

what would we do without sisters?

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

That was beautifully done, Im so glad you posted it. I bet Cindy gets verklempt when she reads it!

I remember Run Dick Run with as much ire as you do. They should really change the book to Shoot Dick, Shoot. Drop dead Dick, drop -at least then there would be some semblance of a plot.

FairiesNest said...

Yep, very verklempt here...you're a sweetie sis!
Bruce did always fall off his desk! What was that about?!

Julie Pippert said...

How lovely!

I was reading by 3, and my mother did know (she was a kindergarten teacher at the time). In fact I recall the lightbulb moment when suddenly all those letters and symbols together made sense. It was like a flash.

My older daughter struggled a bit and I had to clamp down impatience such as you describe. :)

But I did and she persevered and accomplished it.

It IS the best feeling!

Thanks for participating!

Robert said...

I remember my sister - the middle child - teaching me all about baking. She let me help her bake brownies and cookies. She taught me to tie my shoelaces, too. I had two women who were my Mom's best friends that I always called my "third string Moms" and they both assumed it was because neither of them got to be ahead of the other. It was because my sister was second string. She taught me a lot. I wish we were on better terms these days because I know she's a great Mom and I loved learning from her.

I also remember taking my reader to church and reading it ten times between the house and church. Great post.