Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Apparently, reading isn't fundamental

Phantom Scribbler has a school reminiscence which reminded me of my fifth grade teacher.

In general, this teacher was cool - she taught us about critical viewing of advertisements, she introduced us to Holly Near's music, she had us writing poetry and stuff. But....

I may have told you folks once or twice that I like to read.

I like to read a lot. I mean I read often, in bulk. I also love to read.

I'm like Scrooge McDuck - I love to dive into it like a porpoise, burrow through it like a gopher, toss it up and let it hit me on the head. But where he's talking about money, I'm talking about the printed word.

Ms. Fifth Grade Teacher was worried that I was hurting my friends' feelings because I wasn't playing with them enough. Because during my free time at school I would read. Nevermind that I played with them outside of school and during recess and all that crap, and nevermind that my friends didn't mind AT ALL, I was spending too much time with my fictional friends and not enough time with the real ones.

So new rule: little miss Mystery Mommy could use only 15 minutes of free time to read. All other "free" time had to be spend interacting with the other kids in the class.

That was really the start of my reading disorder. I would sneak books. I hid them in my desk, open to the page I was reading and slide it out during class time when I was done doing whatever work I needed to do (not a lot in that school). I stopped doing homework, I played less with friends after school. I would take books out at recess and my friends would cover for me. I was a classic binge reader. I guess I still am. I read the last Harry Potter book in one sitting. I can read and walk down a busy New York Street at the same time. I'm a bookaholic and I'm proud of it.

So, did I ever forgive Ms. Fifth Grade Teacher? Uh-huh. She stayed in touch with my mom and we all had dinner together when I was 25. "You're the same age I was when I taught you!" she said. In that moment, all was forgiven.

9 comments:

Yankee T said...

I used to have to remind Older Daughter that it was impolite to read at the dinner table when we were eating with Grandma...it has calmed down, but she's still an even bigger addict than I am.

Phantom Scribbler said...

I have never wished that I'd grown up in Brooklyn until now. You got in trouble for READING TOO MUCH. That is beautiful.

I got in trouble in sixth grade for writing a book report on Little Women. The teacher said that book was "too hard" for the grade level. I bet you and your linky buddies had all read it 4 times by 6th grade....

Angie said...

I always got caught reading! A great book hidden behind the text book. I couldn't help myself. Still can't. My oldest daughter is an avid reader too. Christmas and Birthdays always come with a giant list of books she wants. She gets them. I remember what it was like to want a certain book and didn't get it!

GuusjeM said...

I always sat in the last seat, in the last row - the joys of having been a Z in the days of alphabetical seating - and read my way through school Nobody ever caught on. To this day I can read and still pay semi attention to any conversation going on around me.

liz said...

I love that I'm not alone here!

Bookaholics unite!

Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

Sing it, sister.

I distinctly remember hiding my "Gone With the Wind" paperback in my desk during Algebra II, sneaking chunks of text when Mr. M____'s back was to the class.

jo(e) said...

I'm a binge reader too. But I had teachers who were okay with that. Most of them would put a rug in the corner of the room and anyone who was done with their work could just go, lay on the floor, and read. In fifth grade, I went through the whole math curriculum by mid-October and spent math class reading while other kids were doing math. It was great.

Mummy/Crit said...

I like how this blog entry and the one you wrote earlier about the coffee shop turning off wireless are so thematically linked.....life is interesting that way. I often have conversations with face to face friends that are sparked by blog posts...

purple_kangaroo said...

I was constantly getting in trouble for reading too much as a child. I used to lie on the floor and read in the crack of light coming through the bedroom door after bedtime, or sneak books when I was supposed to be doing chores or schoolwork.

My mom's most effective disciplinary measure was removing reading priveleges. One time I wasn't allowed to read for recreation for two weeks--I don't remember what I did to get grounded from books for that long, but it stands out as two weeks of torture in my memory.

I can still vaccuum and read a book at the same time. :)