Reflecting on the past, reading was difficult contrary to what most say, after years of special education and being different, things shifted to where they are today. “You need to work hard,” that was my mother’s one and only philosophy in life, emphasizing that “without working hard in school, you’ll have a job like me,” being a seven-year-old and naïve, me and my older brother would agree. Without a father around, my older brother took care of me every night until he would fall asleep, cartoons kept me up until midnight would roll in and then my mother would call, asking if “we were okay,” just before she left work from McDonalds. 

 “You were three when you started head start,” my mother explained, “You had difficulties, only knowing Spanish, you wore diapers to head start,” laughing it off, “However you began to fall in school when you became severely ill with pulmonary ammonia, you missed a lot of school,” and then it became clear why my homework piled up and why we saw doctors all the time. “It costed a lot of money, but those doctor saved your life,” she mentioned “You were a bright kid and you still are.”

 “Brilliant” and “Intelligent,” was what my teachers thought of me in one hand, “I can see you changing the world,” they would add. The animal and national geographic channels were my favorite and regurgitating specific facts about things which were learned made me seem pretty “Smart” to some, however some thought different of me.  He is “Weird” some of my classmates would say on the other hand, “Stay away from him,” but that would not bother me much. After all being “Different” was apparent. While many of my classmates played football during recess, the football field was part of my playground, within winter mice would barrow through the fields. Exploring the field for insects, mice borrows instead of playing football was far more interesting. That being said, I was A lone wolf one would think, exploring the playground somehow made me “Different.” Do not get me wrong, recess was an extraordinary time for me.

Recess also consisted of reading books and my favorite genera’s was non sci-fi animal books. Yet finding a book consisted of finding titles, opening each page up and seeing if they had pictures or not. “You should not judge a book by its cover,” my first grade teacher told me once and after explaining to her ‘That was true, this is what I did…’ she laughed it off and just kept adding how “Smart,” I was. 

“Smart,” made no sense and complementing back with, ‘thank you,’ was what my mother taught me. How can one be “Smart,” or “Brilliant” and “Different” when being in special education?

Around first grade, my special education started. At first my teachers noticed my difficulties with adding simple mathematics and that alone placed me in a different room, we did math all the time. In second grade, it all continued to go downhill from there, “Reading difficulties,” they said and that placed me in a different room with another teacher. Each teacher would pull me out of my normal class, they would ask me to follow them to a large room that had puzzles and toys. This continued on for the rest of the year.

In third grade, it was back to square one, with a new special education teacher. The classroom was the size of a custodian room where only three desks could fit and each desk was facing a wall but one desk. This specific desk had a chalkboard behind it with the teacher in-between facing me and my other classmate named Sam. 

 Despite all of changes, one of my favorite memories were the books within the classroom. They were the size of a standard letter page, folded hamburger style, with a pink cover, white pages inside, pictures, no more than 15 pages each, with large letters and these books had small sentences on every page. The main character’s name was a monkey named Sam, the beginning of the book literally started with, “I am Sam,” and that’s how I was able to remember my classmates name, Sam. We joked around every now about his name and rolled with the jokes, being the kid who he was. 

 Throughout the series of the pink books, me and Sam would switch turns reading. The books, oddly enough became a little harder to read with each book, the letter size became slightly smaller and the sentences became lengthier with each book. We began to stutter the sentences out, rereading and repronouncing. We both became conscious of our mistakes each time until we were able to read the book correctly on the second try. The yellow book eventfully replaced the pink book, then red, green until we finished the series of books. 

Essentially my whole life changed then. The next few years reading became a memory of the past. Eventually, all of my special education classes came to a halt in high school, it was not needed. Without doubts, I am who I am to this day, things continue to fascinate me such as coding, “Brilliant,” my family and friends say and coworkers asking me to share my future billion-dollar net worth. It is difficult finding new complements for their comments.  

Altogether, after graduating and diving into college, never has a thought of fear come to my mind, especially when reading. Although my childhood began with a rough start, my mother’s philosophies began to make more sense each day, “Work hard,” she would say and she still tells me that every now and then, as a reminder. The memories of the little pink book turned out to be a life lesson, a turning point of sorts. 

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