From the first grade the teachers saw me as a problem child. I was considered slow. I could not focus like the rest of the class could. Most of what I remember from the First Grade is staring out of the window, dreaming.
I do remember to pieces of work I did. The first was on a day when we were learning the color red. I colored in a big heart, not always sticking to the inside of the obvious object. If I think carefully it must’ve been Valentines’ Day when we learnt the word and color red. We were taught the phonetics. It was spilt into first: ‘rirr’ then ‘ehh’ and the resounding ‘da’. I can still see the large stenciled RED in the middle of my page. I said the word a few times, rolling it over in my head and thinking…this was genius. I found it amazing how the clumsy constants and single vowel flowed together.
By the second grade the teachers thought me to be stupid. I was on Ritalin and had gone to a few specialists who played games with me and told me to stop eating sugar. I still remember going to extra lessons after school. In these I played cards and read many books of Where’s Wally (this meant finding a four-eyed nerd in a stripped top in a crowd of thousands of people).
All of this meant in the second grade I got sent to the Aids Class. This didn’t mean we had a disease (except stupidity). We just had to be ‘aided’ along. It was a collection of all the misfits and slow learners. The class was kept small so more attention could be paid instead of running along with the herd.
Photo Day. When you are knee high, standing in front of a stranger and grinning is actually something you enjoy doing. We had a problem though. When you are the smallest class in the school you can’t stand in a row of twelve people. So our teacher came up with a plan. We were to get a ladder and gather around it. The smallest guy called Ryan peeked out from the top (standing on the highest rung.) I think I stood near the bottom since I was tall for my grade. There were others that stood on the ground.
There was only one girl in the class. Her name was Roxanne, as far as I remember. She had short blonde hair and wore glasses. She was quite nerdy, however friendly to me. I didn’t have any vague sense of attraction back then. She just seemed like another face in the crowd.