Dave: There I was about to enter school
for the first time. I was so excited I could barely hold my energy in. My mom told me that school is where kids went to go get smart. Being
the highly intelligent kid that I was I watched all the PBS that I could. I was
ready! But then things changed; they changed in the worst possible way.
Mrs. Myth: “Now I want all of you big boys and girls to read the ABCs
page in front of you and then copy it down on a piece of paper.”
Yes! ABCs that’s for
slow kids. I hurried through and was the first one to done. FINISHED!
David, I’m very disappointed. You
didn’t take your time. All of your letters are mixed around.
No they’re not. I’m
right. Look again.
Mrs. Myth: David your D is a P and your P is a D. And is that supposed to be a Q? Everything is turned around.
I then overheard the teacher whisper to a room-aid a word I didn’t recognize at first but would soon know all
Dave: This was my first label. From here on out I would be known as the stupid kid that couldn’t read well; the dumb kid that mixed
things around. I was known affectionately as Dyslexic Dave. Every year my teacher would ask my parents to have me tested, but every year the answer from my father
was the same:
My kid doesn’t need to get tested; he ain’t no retard; he’s just lazy.
All through school my teachers would do the best they could to make special arrangements for me, but with thirty other
kids in a room I quickly became the cliché kid that slipped through the cracks. The worst part about school was homework. I could sit, listen to a teacher lecture, and be able to recite back to you exactly
what they said; however, when it came to doing written work I always failed. I
could see the escape route for my imprisoned mind but confused clutter made it impassable.
I tried everything I could to hide the fact that I couldn’t read right, but inevitably my inadequacy would shine
My mother, God bless her, tried her best
to get me to do well in school. She would sit with me for hours at night and
try to correct my misspellings and errors in interpreting the written word. My
dad, on the other hand, was a tyrant. He thought my mom was babying me and making
Dad: Shirley, how in the world is he ever going to learn if you help him all the time?
Mom: I wouldn’t have to help him if you would let his teacher get him tested.
Dad: Throw him in the deep end and let him swim…if he can’t
then he’ll drown. But that’s his own damn fault.
Mom: Larry you’re a cold hearted bastard!
I’m the man of this house. I’ll say whatever I want and if you don’t like it you can pack your bags
and get the hell out!
Stop it! Stop it! I’ll do my own homework; just stop yelling!
Dave: When parents get a divorce usually
the kids want to blame themselves but the parents always step in with a gentle, “It wasn’t your fault honey, we
just had our differences.” But when my parents got divorced it was my fault. My mother wouldn’t throw me into the deep in to drown and my father; well was
my father. In the divorce dad got the Jeep and my sister. My mom got the broken
down house and the broken down kid: me.
Starting high school was far worse
than grade school. Not only was I a freshman, but I was “starting over”
in a new school district, in a new town where I would have to try and make a new group of friends.
I was the kid with the constant frown;
shoulders slumped down low as if three elephants were taking a nap on them. I
shuffled my feet and stuck close to the lockers to avoid being talked to. I didn’t
want to talk to anyone and no one wanted to talk to me. Not even the office staff
liked me very much. I was constantly in the office asking for my locker combination.
Secretary: 9-13-26…9-13-26! Do you think you
can get it right this time David? Here let me write it down for you so you don’t forget.
Every time I went to my locker it was a new adventure. The numbers became
they mixed around to 26-31-6. My Disorder seemed to get worse when I was in a
hurry or my mind was clouded with the fear that if I screw up my locker combination again that I would be tardy again. My problem became a vicious cycle.
Teacher: Tardy again I see David…this makes three days in a row. I guess an hour detention will remind you that you need to get to class on time.
Eventually I took my lock off, and soon things showed up missing. Obviously,
the sharks could smell blood and moved in quickly for the kill. Finally, when
my Green Nike book bag that I got for Christmas was stolen, I decided to carry ALL my books with me to every class. I felt like the worst human being in the world for letting my bag get stolen. If I had just been normal…If I wasn’t so stupid I would still have that bag. I tried to avoid my mom so she wouldn’t notice that it was missing.
This was my only Christmas present before my freshman year of high school. She
couldn’t afford anything else being a single mom, working two jobs, and helping me with my homework for four hours a
night. And my father sure as hell wouldn’t pay child support beings how
this also would just further my dependency. However, being the excellent observer
that mom was, she noticed right away.
Where is your Nike bag David?
You don’t know or you don’t want to tell me?
I…don’t want to tell you?
David I want you to tell me what happened and I want you to tell me now.
I told her the whole story and she wasn’t upset that I lost the bag, rather she was upset that she let my problem
go this far without professional help. The next day she went with me to school
and made arrangements for me to be tested. Within weeks I was getting “special”
help from someone that was an expert in dealing with kids like me. They called
this room the “resource room” but I called it going to the “retard room.”
Ms. Redding: Everyone…everyone attention please. We have a new student that will be visiting us from time to time.
This is David. Let’s make David feel at home here.