To say that I was an active child is a bit of an understatement. Go to an older dictionary and look up the term, “attention deficit disorder.” Next to the definition you will find my third grade class picture. My mom recently returned all of my report cards to me from kindergarten through the fourth grade (she must have found them in a box, and having read the teacher comments, she broke down crying and decided to get them out of her presence, once and for all). The report cards that were sent home had an empty box next to the subject for the teacher to write in the grade, and there were four boxes for each quarter. In each quarter, there was also a space for the teacher to write her comments to the parents. In looking at all of the report cards, there is a recurring theme.
Kindergarten—“Ronnie is progressing in his school work, but he has very much difficulty in getting along with others. He starts fights with other boys and girls.”
First Grade—“Ronnie must understand that the classroom is for learning, not acting. He works well until his own work is finished.”
Second Grade—“I’m hoping that Ronnie will improve in his study habits and citizenship, because he has outstanding abilities.”
Third Grade—“Ronnie has become very careless with his work. Neatness is not part of his work and he hurries and does not do as good a job as he is capable of doing.”
Fourth Grade—“If Ronald will continue to improve his conduct, I hope he will have earned a “C” by the next grading period.”
The next grading period—“I believe Ronald could be an excellent student if he would take more thought in improving his conduct.”
There is a definite pattern in these comments from five different teachers. They were obviously being as kind as they could, when what they really wanted to say was, “Mrs. Bay, your son is a hellion!” It seems that Citizenship-Conduct really had me stumped and a “D” grade was not uncommon. Thank goodness that particular curriculum was dropped off the report card after fourth grade. It wasn’t like I didn’t get good grades; I generally received A’s and B’s. I think it was more the fact that teachers had to spend an inordinate amount of time saying things like, “Ronnie, please sit down.” Or, “Ronnie, please turn around.” Or, “Ronnie, leave Susie alone.” Or, “Ronnie, don’t cut in line.”
While going through the report cards I noticed that I was in summer school in the first, second, and fourth grades. (Why third grade was skipped, I’m not sure. It had to be an oversight on someone’s part). Since I got good grades, there had to be another reason. Hmmm. [In speaking with Mom recently, she admitted that sending me to summer school was designed to give her a break at home and had nothing to do with grades. I was the only one of the four of us sent to summer school]. I also found out that there was a reason I started kindergarten at the age of four. Mom admitted that me being in school, in the care of someone else, would be better for all. I was as much of a handful alone as the other three siblings combined.
You get the picture. It was like I had ants in my pants and couldn’t sit still. They didn’t have drugs back then, well, at least the legal kind, and there weren’t enough punishments to fix the problem. Maybe a frontal lobotomy might have done the trick. I have yet to visit a counselor.
Purchase your Kindle or paperback version of Little Heathens and Always a Little Heathen here.