Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

I don't see the world the same as anyone else. Literally.

I was born with cataracts. Before I was four, I'd had five surgeries to remove the clouded lenses from my eyes and give me some sight.

My Mom had a choice: send me to the local school for the handicapped or mainstream me. She visited the school and was saddened by the white canes and wheelchairs. So, I went to regular grade school with my pop-bottle thick Granny glasses on.

Everyone, including my very prejudiced Mom and her teacher friends, said I was bright. I knew my alphabet and the phonetic sound of each letter before kindergarten. I knew words like precocious and I was even creating my own, benderphobia was the first at three. I could count to 100, too. And, I wrote beautiful cursive--from right to left. (My handwriting's never been as good as it was in kindergarten)

I just couldn't read. I'm not sure what happened in my brain when I looked at words, but it wasn't what my first grade teacher expected. I was stuck in the paste-and-booger eating reading group falling asleep over Jack and Jill. Mrs. Leeman told my Mom I wasn't living up to my potential, but darned if either one of them knew what to do with me.

I'm not sure what made Mom buy me a subscription to the Dr. Seuss book club, but that changed everything. The first book to come was "Hop On Pop."

The images and words connected for me. I was devouring the Seuss books and waiting anxiously for the next one to show in the mail.

Somewhere along the line, I got promoted to the middle-of-the road readers. I was still bored with Jack and Jill, but I put up with them because I knew if I could stand that pair, I would someday get to read books I wanted.

Meanwhile, I was learning some lessons about the world from Dr. Seuss and the gang. From Sam-I-Am, I learned about prejudice.

By third grade, I was in the top reading group. My reading and elocution were so good, I was one of the kids chosen to read for the kindergarteners. Of course, I had to pick Dr. Seuss. The book I chose was "Green Eggs and Ham."

Getting applause from those little kids was one of the proudest moments of my life. I owe a lot of thanks to my Mom, the teachers who never gave up on me, and yes to Dr. Seuss for giving me books that captured my imagination and my heart.

My one regret is I never got to thank Dr. Seuss in person, but I believe somewhere up in the rainbow clouds, he knows.

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel.

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