I didn’t go to preschool or kindergarten. Perhaps that’s why it wasn’t long into my first year of school that I was sent to the principal’s office. Here’s what happened: The teacher had left the room. In a firm moment of lost reason I decided it would be super cool to stand on my desk and pretend to be the teacher. We had desks that were little tables with separate chairs. I stood on my desk, not next to it or at the front of the class (well I didn’t need to, my desk was at the front of the class). I danced. I sang. I adapted my best Mrs. Nelson voice – yes, that really was her name – and reminded the class to sit down and be quiet. The class went from hilarious laughter to dead silent. For a moment I felt real POWER! Then I saw the fear in their eyes. Nope, they were not afraid of me. Me, still standing on my desk. I didn’t have to turn around to know who had just re-entered the classroom.
This same teacher soon discovered that my lack of attention and discipline might be related to the fact that I couldn’t see a thing she was writing on the board. Board? I didn’t get why we were even watching her scribble on it. All that watching seemed a waste of time. Mrs. Nelson sent me home with a note that I couldn’t read. Probably because I hadn’t learned how yet. It seemed so ominous.
Soon we were headed to Dallas to see our optometrist. I know. Seems extreme to go from Houston to Dallas to get an eyeglasses prescription but that’s what how my family rolled. Besides, the optometrist and his family were friends with my family. The only other reason I can think that we did that was because the visit was free. We also ate and slept at their house. This was in the early 60’s. It seems such a weird and wacky thing to do coming from the perspective of nowadays. I mean, Dallas was a long way away in those days. Not that Dallas has moved closer. It just seems like it has because the speed limit is higher and cars are faster – or we drive faster, I don’t know which. Maybe it was a weird and wacky thing in those days, too. Or maybe the White family was that amazing to let us do it. Mrs. White was probably the hospitable person on the planet. She had five kids. We had four kids. That’s a lot of people to feed and house.
Thank you White family of Dallas. I know there are many of you all over the world by now but just a line to say those moments we spent telling stories late into the night from the living room floor were wonderful for all of us kids.
And thank you Mrs. Nelson from E.F. Smith Elementary for being the only teacher to write a positive note on my report card in five years of grade school. “Becky is a wonderful artist!”
So my first pair of glasses were light blue. Cat glasses. The first time I put them on when we got home from the store I went out in the back yard. It was the first time I saw detail. Detail!! You mean everyone can see the individual blades of grass on the ground? It isn’t just a flat mass of green? Clouds? There are clouds in the sky? Suddenly my colorful world was full of wonderful detail. There are not only places to go but things to see! How exciting!
I don’t think I ever got over that moment.