Chapter 3 (Math, school, walk a mile in my shoes)A Chapter by Allen Smuckler
(Math, school, walk a mile in my shoes)
"Fair does not mean 'everyone get the same treatment', what it really means is ‘everyone gets what he or she needs'."
- Richard Lavoie
Fifth grade was a drag. I think for the most part, school and I were not meant to be...I couldn't stand being cooped up in a cold, hard building, sitting on filthy, hard desks or chairs or whatever they called them, trying to remember long, hard division taught by boring, inflexible teachers. Summer vacation was a few short weeks away, and that's all I cared about or could think of. Baseball, fishing, lying in the field at the end of the street watching the clouds go by, pretending I was someone special and important. I really didn't have a care or qualm in the world... 'cept maybe passing my classes. I never stayed back, though I probably should have, but boy did I struggle in school. Somehow I made it through and here I was, squirming in my seat waiting for the dismissal bell to release me from this prison called Stratfield School.
I never realized how lucky I was to be in this suburban elementary school. We moved from the delightful or should I say blightful city life of Bridgeport, Connecticut to the pastoral, serene life of Fairfield, Connecticut in the middle of third grade. Most normal thinking human beings would be thrilled at this “promotion” in life style and prestige. To me, however, it represented pure torture. I had friends after all and was secure in who I was, even if I was only seven years old when we made the move. I was never confused for being the sharpest knife in the drawer or brightest bulb on the tree, but I wasn't stupid either. I could read, was a pretty good speller, and could do any math they put in front of me as long as it was addition or subtraction...Science and Social Studies bored the hell out of me, and I could hold my own in gym. But now, another school, new teachers, new students, making new friends, proving and protecting myself. The new kid from the Port.... poor, Jewish, and small in stature.... Ugh!
Don't get me wrong. Not everyone in Fairfield was rich...Certainly there were Jews in the town (There was even a section, Sky Top Drive, where all the rich Jews lived)...and there were even one or two people smaller or the same size as me (not counting the girls, where there were maybe six my size or smaller). But I was unique, to say the least, because I was the ONLY tiny, Jewish, poor boy in the town of Fairfield. Quite a legacy to uphold, but I was up to the challenge. As soon as I figured out where I fit in.
When the bell mercifully released us, it was homeward bound. Today, the long bus ride seemed even longer, and the quarter mile walk from the bus stop seemed
never-ending.... The long day into night was just beginning and I had no idea what was in store for me that evening...though I should have had some inkling, when I noticed the door ajar and my father still in bed.
"Hi dad" I said, a little surprised. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing" he responded softly. "I'm just not feeling that well, so I took today off."
He looked and sounded tired but I thought nothing of it. After all, I was ten years old and all was right with the world.
My father really didn't take the day off, since he worked nights at the U.S. Postal Service. I think he sorted mail. What else would you do at night at the post office? So in reality, he was taking that night off. I never got to spend any time with my father because he always slept during the day and worked during the nighttime. I really didn't know my father that well, so any extra time to be together was fine with me, sick or not.
I passed by his room a few times just to see how he was doing, hoping if he heard me he would ask me to get my glove and go outside to have a catch. Each time I passed, I looked in and there he was, still in his bathrobe, lying on his back, looking at the ceiling like he was in a planetarium, gazing at the stars in the galaxies. A blank expression across his face as if he had just seen an extraterrestrial about to enter earth's atmosphere or was just trying to understand how outer space can keep expanding with no end in sight. I suppose we all wonder how and where we fit in....Throwing the baseball didn't seem to be in his plans today.
© 2011 Allen Smuckler
Added on December 20, 2011
Last Updated on December 24, 2011
My Life (A Child's View)
AboutI'm a poet, a singer, a peaceful gunslinger.. looking to share my poetry..and a little bit of me...if I dare I 've been writing since I was 18.... am slightly older now, and still trying to fin.. more..
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