Thank You, Mr. Falker

email written May 17, 2002

I was at the pool today with the kids for swim practice.  K.J. just kills me.  He can swim, but he doesn’t want anyone to know it because… what? -he might have to do laps?  He’s the one who wanted to be on the swim team.  So, anyway, I end up having to poke and prod him into doing what he is very capable of doing.  It’s the story of my life with K.J.  When he finally does the thing he can do, he beams and feels very proud of himself.  You think he’ll eventually figure out he can get that feeling earlier if he allows himself to be the smart, athletic boy that he is?

While I was at the pool, I had a conversation with a friend, the mother of two other children on the swim team.  She asked about Emily and school because she knew Emily had been struggling with reading when last we spoke.  She told me about a children’s book called “Thank You, Mr. Falker,” by Patricia Polacco, which is an autobiographical story of the author’s difficulty learning to read and the special teacher who taught her.  My friend had the book in her car and lent it to me.

After dinner, I read the book aloud to John, Journey, Skye, and K.J.  (Emily was with her friend in the playroom.)  When we got to the part where the girl first begins to read, there is a line about the teacher having tears in his eyes.  K.J. laughed.  John asked, “Do you know why there were tears in his eyes?”  Skye (age 4), matter-of-factly, replied, “Because he was so happy.”

Man! Skye floors me sometimes.  I spend so much time nagging her about her dirty underwear, her inability to clean up ANYTHING, her carelessness, etc. that I forget how insightful she is.

By the end of the book, my voice was cracking so much that I could barely speak.  John was in tears.  Skye was smiling, knowingly.  And K.J. looked puzzled.  Then, Journey, who will be two tomorrow, sang the entire “ABC Song,” giggled, and gave us a big smile of her own.

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