Every seven-year old wants to be with their best friend as much as possible. It was second grade and my best friend (Lisa) and I were in the same class! What was the chance of that? This wasn’t just an ordinary best friend. We knew each other since we were born. Our Moms and Dads were best friends. Her brother was my first crush. My brother was her crush. Our family spent all of our free time together. We went camping together and church together. We were inseparable!
Our life was good until the second grade teachers decided to separate all the students into three reading levels. I was in the advanced readers and they took my best friend away to the “needs improvement” class. They had the audacity to separate us for a half hour a day!
Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading but the freedom of the advanced class paled in the light of my best friend Lisa. It was okay, at first, but eventually it started to take a toll on me. So I formed a plan to be reunited.
I started purposely making mistakes when asked to read out loud. Then I would act confused and distracted during group lessons. In response to my sudden change, my parents took me to the eye doctor to make sure it wasn’t my eyes. I passed that test with flying colors.
So the school responded by dropping me to the average kids reading level. Score! I was almost there. I continued to fake that I was struggling and fooled two more teachers that I needed extra help. They dropped me to the “needs improvement” class! All was well with the world. Lisa and I were reunited. I actually really enjoyed that class. The teachers were kind and made the class fun. To keep up the ruse I had to continue to appear that I was struggling. The year passed by and my best friend and I enjoyed a year of peace.
The bomb dropped when my Mom informed me that my teachers wanted me to repeat second grade. When I heard this news I knew it was time to come clean. So I asked my Mom, “Mom, is it because of my reading?” My Mom (like most Moms) wanted to protect my feelings and said, “No honey it’s because of your Math, English and other subjects.” “Oh.” I responded and walked away thinking. There was nothing wrong with my Math. I was doing great. There was nothing wrong with my English either. I shrugged it off and let it go. At the time, I didn’t realize the implication of this whole situation was that my best friend was going to the next grade without me.
Soon after that our family decided to move and in the midst of all the changes I never came clean to my parents. I repeated second grade and did great.
So looking back what did I learn from this life-altering situation? I remember having deep understanding, awareness and feeling at a very young age. Because of this I have purposed to believe my kids know a lot more than most people give them credit for. I parent them with that in mind. Their feelings and opinions (although uncontrolled and need of schooling at times) mean something. I coach them through their feelings and I’m very careful not to discount them. I answer all questions truthfully and honestly. I’ve always talked to them on my level. There is so much transparency in our relationship and I see it translating to a healthy adult relationship someday. I didn’t tell my parents the truth till I was in my late teens. I honestly forgot. They were awestruck and dumbfounded. They had no idea.