Spring flowers had started to poke up in our front garden. The head tulips always poked through the ground first. Bright happy yellows, ruby reds, and sometimes electric orange tulips emerged from the brown soil. The winter was beginning to melt fast. It was getting warmer to. The sun was shining down this morning.
At school we were doing reading. There was a big shelf tiered with different coloured books in one area of the grade 2 classroom I was in. Earlier in the month we all were asked to read out loud and to ourselves different words and sentences. I looked at my paper on the desk and took a breath. With my hand I lightly hit myself in the head on my forehead.
The words were printed in black ink and were big. I could read some of the words and knew what they meant. There were many other words that I did not know, or could read, or understand. When it was my turn to stand up and read in the class, I read a few of the words, stammering and going really slow to sound out the words I did not know. The teacher was encouraging and supportive. “Keep trying Aime, you are doing great.” I knew I wasn’t doing as good as the other kids in the class. A few of the kids were reading very fast and were able to read the entire piece of paper very quickly.
Then it was time for us to sit down and do the questions on the paper. I again lightly hit my head, on my forehead. I did this a few times staring at my pencil and paper. I heard footsteps coming down the row. They went click clack and were heavy sounding. They were my teachers. “Aime why are you hitting your head?” My teacher’s face was kind, and sparkly. She was smiling at me and had a look of concern on her face too.
“I’m hitting my head because I want my words to stay in my head, so I can read them better.” I looked at my teacher with big eyes.
“Doesn’t that hurt your head? Doing it over and over again?” My teacher gently took my hand and put her hand on my forehead. She softly rubbed my forehead where I had been hitting myself. “Take this home, and work on it. Come see me when tomorrow to show me, and tell me how it went.” The teacher smiled at me again.
My walk home was one of the fastest in the school. Our house was right across from my elementary school. I walked down the sidewalk, crossed with the crossing guard, and then back up my sidewalk to my house. My house was made of brick with some siding. My room was the front upper window. I could look out and see my school every morning.
I walked into my home and put my school bag down. “Hi Mum!” I yelled. Mum was with my sister in the family room, looking at a book. “Hi Aime, how was school?” Mum smiled at me.
“Not fun, I have some homework to do. We did more reading at school today. I don’t like reading.” I said to my Mum.
“Well after super we can work on it.”
Dad came home a couple hours later. He was happy to be home too. I heard Dad say it was a busy day at the office. Supper was something I liked, chicken, potatoes and corn. I gobbled down my food and sipped my milk. I knew what was coming next. After we cleared the table and whipped it down Dad said to get the homework I had.
“What does this word say? Sound it out.” Dad said to me.
I hit myself in my head on the forehead lightly. I did my best to sound out each word.
“Stop hitting yourself in the head Aime. Just sound out the words.”
I was getting more and more frustrated. I started to cry, hot tears coming down my face that was stained red.
“I can’t do it! I don’t understand the words!” I said through my tears. Sighing big breathes as I spoke.
I think Dad was also getting frustrated and loosing patience with me. “Yes, you can, read the words.”
An hour or so later we did get through the homework paper.
The next day at school I went up to my teacher. Handed her the paper. “Hi Aime, how was the homework last night?” She smiled at me.
“Not good, it took for ever. I was crying.” I said shyly to my teacher.
It was time for reading again. I was told that I was in the group that could read the orange books. The books were different colours, and different levels. The orange level was one of the lower levels, with the pink and purple levels were much harder. I choose a story book and settled in my chair at my desk. I took a breath and again hit myself in my head lightly on my forehead. “I need to remember these words.”
“Aime.” My teacher called my name and shook her head no. As telling me to not hit my head.
Little did I know that my struggles with school was just beginning. There would be more nights sitting at my kitchen table in tears with different subjects I was learning. Or that in high school I would work very hard to get passing marks in my subjects. This was only the beginning.
Luckily, I had Girl Guides, swimming, and ballet to help me escape from the school struggles.