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Thursday, March 13, 2014

30 Week Blog Challenge: Week 24-Your Childhood

Yes, I know that I am behind on the 30 Week Blog Challenge.  I have been unable to access the Internet, so that is why I have been missing in action.

This week’s challenge is to talk about your childhood.  Okay, this is going to be a long one. So here it goes.

I was born June 22, 1983 in Greenville, South Carolina.  I was an only child until I was 9 years old when my brother was born.  I had cousins to play with, but the ones closest to my age were boys.  I have a girl cousin who lives who is two years younger than me. I don’t get to see her that often.  I have a big family, so there was always something going on.  We use to have family gatherings and make trips to Newberry.  My family was a lot closer than.  It was difficult to imagine anything different.

My parents, brother, and I took family vacations.  We have been to Disney World three times.  We visited our family members in various locations around the country including Virginia, Georgia, Texas, and Washington D.C.  Before my brother was born, we went to Mexico.  It was our first visit to a foreign country.

I was born visually impaired.  I spent a lot of time in hospitals and doctor’s offices.  I went to daycare and preschool with other kids who weren’t physically challenged.  I don’t remember how they responded to me then. I imagine that it didn’t matter as long as there was someone to play with.  When I was about four years old, I was on the monkey bars one day.  I remember falling to the ground, my head was bleeding, and the teachers had to wrap my head and drive me to the hospital.  (I guess EMS couldn’t get there in time).  I remember going to the hospital seeing my mother waiting for me, and receiving a big bandage on my head.  I also remember waking up at home, overhearing my mother calling to get my glasses fixed.  I still have a small scar above my eye brow

I was enrolled in kindergarten in 1988.  I rode the school bus to school every day, and I know that it is a very young age to let a child ride the bus.  The bus I was on was for physically challenged children only.  So I guess my parents thought that this was safer than riding the “regular” bus.  I started off in a small class with three other visually impaired students and I was the only girl in my class.  We would partner with the other special education classes for art, music, and etc.  In the first grade, another student and I spend the afternoon with other classes for science and social studies.  They call this mainstreaming where a special education student participates in classes with other students (general population). I’m sure that there is a better explanation for it.

I started off as an honor roll student.  I won lots of awards and my parents and or grandparents would reward me. For instance, they would take me to Belk’s department store.  Back then, if you showed your report card, they would give you prizes.  So it was always something to look forward to.  It was shocking to learn that I was going to be held back in the first grade.  It wasn’t because of my grades.  I always thought that maybe it was because I spent so much time in the hospital that school year.  It was never really explained to me.

Honor roll kept up until the second semester of third grade.  I don’t know what happened to me that year. When I started the third grade, I was in for a big surprise.  On the first day of school, I found out that I would be mainstreaming full time.  I was going to be in a class with other students.  I was leaving our close knit nucleus and was going to be in a class with more students.  It wasn’t so bad because I had my childhood friend Chris with me from my class of four years.   We had a teacher aide to come sit with us in class and we would go back to the old classroom to check in with our teacher.

Chris and I spent a lot of time together at recess.  The other kids kind of kept themselves at a distance.  One day, my teacher encouraged the class to start playing with us.  Chris began to make more friends and wellI didn’t.  I would spend recess alone.

By fourth grade, I knew that I wasn’t fitting in with the students and I would get made fun of.  My grandmother bought me a Barney book bag, but this was a big joke to my classmates.  Fortunately, I had another book bag at home to use.  My classmates would talk about music and other stuff and I felt clueless about what they talked about.  What I knew about music was from what my parents played in the car, etc.  I started listening to the radio more and learning the titles and artists of songs.  I started watching music videos on BET and MTV.

Despite this, I wasn’t connecting with my classmates.  I often times spent recess alone.  My teachers thought that it was necessary for me to talk to a guidance counselor.  My teacher also handpicked two girls for me to hang out with-Rasandra and Allison.  This only lasted until the end of the school year and we went our separate ways in 5th grade.

In 5th grade, there were no more counselors and matchups.  I guess that teachers didn’t have time to worry about my social life.  A girl named Christy, who rode my bus started talking to me.  We would have to do all of our socializing at school or in the library before we got on the bus, because our bus driver didn’t allow us to talk.  All I could do on the bus is sight see or take a nap.  We  started talking on the phone and passing notes and this was a big deal.  Folks, it was the mid 90’s, so there was no Facebook, Twitter, email, texting, etc.  We had face-to-face, notes, and phone.

Life changed in middle school. I guess that I can say that the innocence of elementary school was a thing of the pass.  Christy was at the same school, so I had someone there.  She would bring me magazines and we would exchange/borrow CD’s. Music was our common interest.

I still wasn’t connecting with the other students.  Kids made fun of me more.  I use to have to sit really close to the board to copy notes.  One person said, “I had a dream that I could see again.”

Seriously.

In seventh grade, my classmates made fun of my socks.  I had colored socks to match my outfits.  I decided to switch to all white socks.  But that made it worse. They thought that I have worn the same socks every day.

There was one thing that I could always count on and that was books.  I developed a love for reading in elementary school.  I remember receiving a tape recorder and an audiobook from the library about a girl named Jenny with glasses.  I loved going to the library to check out books.  I liked books about different countries.  I also loved the Baby-Sitters Club series.  My middle school library had a few books from the series and I discovered other chapter books.  I looked forward to book fairs.  So I was sad when I discovered that high school didn’t have book fairs.

I use to love to draw and I could spends hours in my room or in front of the TV drawing pictures.  I use to make up stories and draw pictures for them and called them books.  The drawing stopped in middle school, but I started writing stories and poetry.

In the 8th grade, I peaked academically.  I was on the honor roll again and won lots of awards at the end of the school year.   I was in the spelling bee, and despite being a pretty good speller, the only reason why I got to be in it was because no one in my English class wanted to do it.  My teacher was furious with my classmates that day, but was glad that I was willing to do it.  I would have been a fool not to go.  I didn’t win but it was a good experience.

Life in high school shifted again.  I made good grades in my freshman year-A’s and B’s in most of my classes. However, math and science became my downfall and hurt my GPA.  So I had a 2.5 to 2.8 throughout high school.  I still didn’t have many friends, but I was okay with that.  I had my little group from special ed that I pretty much grew up with.

At the end of freshman year, we had our award ceremony and I didn’t win one single award.  I realized that I had tougher competition.  I decided that I would go out for yearbook and newspaper staff.  People thought I was crazy. I had one person tell me, “They aren’t going to accept us anyway.”  Unfortunately I was rejected.  I tried at least one more time, but I was rejected.

During my sophomore year, I developed a crush on one of my teachers.  It was an odd time for me.  I survived junior and senior year.  Senior year, I made a friend.  But sadly it was short lived.  Senior year bought on a lot of changes.  Once the cap and gown was off, it was time to move on and grow up.  My little group and I went our separate ways.  We try to keep in contact, but it’s not that easy.

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