Posted by: wrmcnutt | January 17, 2012

The Keys to the Kingdom

If you know her, please tell her I’d like to contact her.  Back in 1970, her name was Miss Childs.  Like Miss Othmar before her, she may be married now, and have a “married name,” but in the real world she will always and forever be Miss Childs.  But be careful with the name, for if you speak it in my presence, you will take off your hat, and you will speak the name with respect.

She will be easy to recognize.  Her hair is platinum blonde; the color of a freshly honed dagger edge.  The color of her eyes have been lost to me in the passing of the years, but they are deep as the blackest night between galaxies and as warm as freshly mixed cocoa in front of  crackling fire.  If I recall correctly, she stands about nine feet tall.  But despite that, her statuesque beauty is rivaled only by her academic genius.  By her will do the tides roll in and out on schedule.  In her name, does the sun rise to warm us and the rain fall to group the crops that feed us. When she speaks, all nature stops to wonder.

With all due regard to my mother, and eternal love and affection for my lady wife,  Miss Childs remains the single most influential person in my life.  She taught first grade at Skyland Park Elementary School.

All the things I know.  All the skills I have.  The philosophies and thoughts the guide my decisions.  The friends I know, online and off.  All these things she gave to me.

You see – she taught me to read.

Yea Gods.  I remember the day and the hour.  I came to her knowing the alphabet, and by custom and by law, she was forced to inflict Phonics on me.  And we plowed through it.  I memorized words and phrases.

Yeah, yeah – I “see Spot run.”  Yes, I will “Look, look,” and “See Jane.”  Big, fat, hairy deal.  This was BORING.

And then, one day, “Today class, we are going to learn a new word.  Remember that you can tell who is speaking because the words are printed next to them?  Well now we’re using a new work, ‘said.’  Now we just look to see who ‘said’ something.”

It was like being hit in the head with a kickball.  You could almost hear the traces snapping as I broke them and read ahead.  Poor Miss Childs NEVER had my full attention again, because there was always a book in my lap.  Text books?  Workbooks?  Read and gone.  The tiny library at the back of the room? Blown through by the end of the school year.  At the end of the year I could read like a fourth-grader, and I never slowed down.

Knowledge is power.  Sheer, raw, unaldulterated power – to make of myself what ever I chose, and to make over my corner of the worlds as I see fit.  And she just gave it to me, without hesitation or reservation.

Thank you Miss Childs, wherever you are.


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