My "First Words"…Thank You Mrs. Roundtree, Mom, and Cathy!

I was born a “dummy”.  The youngest of 3 girls and they were both brilliant, just like my parents.  I was the dumb one!  By the age of 3, both of my sisters could not only spell their names, they could write them!  I could not!
They both entered school well above the norm.  They excelled…I did NOT!  It wasn’t my parent’s fault, they had already raised two brilliant daughters.  It was ME!  I was just a DUMMY!  It wasn’t my sisters’ faults, they tried to teach me as well, but I was a DUMMY!  I just couldn’t read or write!
I entered Kindergarten and that was easy peasy.  Back in MY day, Kindergarten was half a day and all you had to know was blue truck, red car.  Smash blue truck into red car = good.  And I could stack blocks too.  I wasn’t certain what the letters were, but I could stack them!
Then it was time for 1st grade….real learning.  My oldest sister had worked with me over the summer because she didn’t want a DUMMY for a sister (my words, not hers).  Nothing clicked.  I just couldn’t/wouldn’t get it!  I was not only a DUMMY, I was stubborn as well!
That Fall, I entered the 1st grade, and I couldn’t read, nor could I write.  DUMMY!  It was embarrassing and it was scary!  But I was funny…that had to count for something, right?  The kids would love me!  And they did!
But all of those kids could read and write…something was very WRONG with me.  I was highly aware of this, and Mrs. Roundtree, my 1st grade teacher, sensed my fears but didn’t understand them!  One day, she asked for the children to come up to the front of the room to read aloud.  Jerry, Suzie, Jason, Jane…they all did fine!  I was happy for them!  THEN…it was MY turn!  OH NO…did she seriously just call me up there?  Now what?
Here’s what!  I peed my pants…right there in front of the class.  Somehow (and her super powers still amaze me to this day), Mrs. Roundtree created a diversion and NO ONE noticed what had happened.  She called recess, cleaned up my DUMMY mess, and she “talked” to me.  I mean, this lady truly talked to me!  She listened, then she called my mom (my hero). 
Together, they figured it out!  I naturally held a pencil or crayon in my left hand but was told to switch to my right.  When I attempted to read, it was from right to left.  So simple that even this DUMMY would recognize it now.  I was freakin left-handed and all of this right-handed-forced learning had confused me to no end!  
It was THAT simple!  And so they embraced my left-handedness (for those of you young whipper snappers reading this thinking…WTF?  Back “in the day”, EVERYONE was right-handed, and if you weren’t….you learned how to be).  As soon as they let (and encouraged) ME be ME, I began to soar!  So simple!
And by the next year (finally at the age of 7) I was reading! I was no DUMMY, and I was writing in the journal my mom had bought for me!  My first “piece” was simple:
If a stranger you should meet,
As you’re walking down the street,
Say “HI”, not “Good Bye”, 
You might like it,
If you try!   
King?  Bombeck?  Absolutely NOT!  Profound?  YES, in ways you could never imagine.  That little 7-year-old DUMMY was able to read and write, and rhyme!  AMAZING!  And all because someone recognized that she was “different”.  
And the beauty of the poem is this….that 7-year-old wrote the story of her life, right then…right there!  That’s my motto now!  It’s simple, but it’s true!
So thank you Mrs. Roundtree!  You were right!  I’m not a DUMMY!  I might not be King, I might not be Bombeck…but I’m no DUMMY!  And you know what?  I now make a living writing from my heart!  Kudos to you (and to my mom and sister for sticking with me and believing in me).  It’s a modest living, but you were SOOO right…I’m NO dummy! 
About Christy

Christy Gossett, managing editor of SoFabFood and creator of the healthy living blog, Insanity Is Not An Option, is a WAHM of 6 kids ranging in age from 27 to 8. She enjoys sharing her heart-healthy, low sodium recipes to help others with dietary restrictions enjoy a flavorful life while maintaining a healthy diet.

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  1. Saltlizard says:

    First, You reference two of my favorite authors ever. Stylistically I would like to be Bombeckesque. Second, wow. And third, you seriously did that when you were 7?? Need to throw my son a little more slack and remind myself that he must know much more than I give him credit for.

  2. clgossett says:

    Lefties are creative…that’s all we got 🙂 The “piece” is dated 1974…and you and I both know how old we were then, and NOW! LOL…they DO know more than us! Cut my future SIL some slack…would ya?

  3. Aw, you made your sissy cry. Of course we would never give up on you and no one thought you were a dummy at all! Remember they also put me in the low reading group until they found out I didn’t do well unless I was challenged. We’re all different in our own ways and when that uniqueness is encouraged, allowed to flourish and cultivated in positive ways it leads to greatness. I love you!

  4. Oh and something must have clicked because you have the same callous on the same finger, opposite hand, as me because your weirdo sister taught you how to write like her…different than everyone else. 😛

  5. MSRheinlander says:

    Awe… never imagined you could think you were a DUMMY!! You are way too sparkly for that!! Way to go Mrs. Roundtree for being such a great teacher!!

  6. If a stranger you should meet,
    As you’re walking down the street,
    Say “HI”, not “Good Bye”,
    You might like it,
    If you try!

    Beautiful sentiments but I suspect if the seven year old you was brought into the paranoid world that we now find ourselves living in, you would find yourself either in detention for such liberal thinking or on the side of a milk carton – “last seen talking to a stranger”.

    Personally, I’m not sure I want to find myself being accosted by every seven year old I meet in the street but that’s more my allergic reaction to anyone under the age of about 18….

  7. Jules Cohn says:

    Okay Neil, I just have to say…WTF? What are you talking about? Why are you even here, except to troll? Go climb back in your hole and leave this beautiful mama alone…you freak!

  8. Jules Cohn says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your Mom, sister, and Mrs. Roundtree…thank goodness they helped to find that gift in you, so we could all enjoy it today. You are a beautiful writer Christy, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are not!

  9. Seriously? This women just bears her soul and shares something painful and wonderful all at once and you have an allergy? You need meds…too bad there isn’t one that you can take for being a jerk.

  10. My mom was also a lefty and would have her hand smacked if she tried to write left-handed in school. Her teachers were not wonderful like yours. So she was always ambidextrous and could do everything with both hands after that.

    I think you’re fabulous and definitely NOT a dummy. Anyone who knows you even a little knows that. And your poem is FABULOUS! And If no one ever talked to strangers, how would anyone ever meet?

  11. Glenda Embree says:

    Christy, your story is exactly why I adore homeschooling and being able to gear our kids’ educations to their strengths, learn their weaknesses and show them how to overcome them and watch those “light bulbs” go on. It’s such a rush when you see that something has “clicked”. The Bible tells us to “raise up a child in the way he should go.” Most people misuse that verse to be only about discipline, when the original language translates more like “Train up a child in the natural bent in which he was created.” We’re supposed to study and learn the “natural bent” (giftedness) God has instilled in our children and then encourage and support them in growing in that. It makes me so excited just thinking about it and your mom and your teacher definitely “got it”. What an amazing teacher Mrs. Roundtree was not to force you to conform to someone’s arbitrary idea of “the way to do it”. Yay for your mom and sisters and how blessed we all are that they recognized your gift and let you bloom! Hugs, dear friend!

  12. You sure aren’t a dummy! You’re a sparkling poet my dear! And if you don’t want to be a poet you could always be a rapper! That’s some mad rhymes for a 7 year old…hehehe! 🙂

  13. There should a Mrs Roundtree in every teacher so that kids will never be made to feel ever again that they are not good enough. Thank you for writing about it. It’s a very inspiring piece, and it helped so much in strengthening my principle on homeschooling. Parents (and siblings) are the best teachers because they do it with love and genuine concern. There are no dummies in the world…only teachers who are not doing their jobs well, especially as second parents to our kids. I say this with resentment about the current situation of the educational system in my country. You’re so lucky you had Mrs Roundtree. Blessed be!

  14. clgossett says:

    Glenda – you are such an inspiration and your words are so powerful. I aspire to be as thoughtful, eloquent, and beautiful as you some day!

  15. Wonderful! Such a fantastic story! And I’m sure Mrs. Roundtree would be honored to know how much her attention meant to you then… and now! I was an elementary music teacher for several years before leaving and being a SAHM, and I absolutely LOVED my job. I loved how every child could succeed in music and find happiness in something as simple as playing a wood block in class or marching to the beat. The look of joy on these children’s faces when they sang a solo or played an instrument gave me more fulfillment than I could ever say. It was the most rewarding job I could ever imagine having.

    And one of the best things about it was that EVERY CHILD could succeed in one way or another. I once had a mom approach me in tears after a concert because I had given her academically challenged and extremely socially-awkward child a solo, and he had totally rocked it. She was sobbing and embraced me and told me that her child was picked on by everyone, failed most of his subjects and generally felt like a failure… EXCEPT in music, where he was given a chance to shine. She promised me neither of them would ever forget my kindness, and I’d bet that many years later, that boy will still remember singing in front of an auditorium of people and hearing applause meant just for him.

    Being a teacher is one of those jobs that comes with great responsibility. Unfortunately there are teachers who are extremely quick to “write off” someone who just isn’t “getting it” for whatever reason, without bothering to take the time to find the key to that person’s success. I am so thankful for teachers like Mrs. Roundtree, who really SAW you, and took the time to help you blossom. I love hearing stories like this–in a world filled with so much negativity, stories like yours remind us that there are people out there who truly do care.

    And let me say that I’m doubly amazed that she was able to divert the class’s attention away from you peeing your pants. Way to go, teach!!

    Thanks for sharing. I’m stopping by from the voiceBoks Meaningful Monday hop! Already a follower. Have a fantastic day!

    Smiles, Jenn @Misadventures in Motherhood