“Today, Children, we are going to begin with reading out loud. Turn to page 58 in your books, please.” Ugh and gag me with a spoon. I just hate to stand up and read with everyone listening. My stomach tightened as the first boy stood by his desk and started reading.
“When Farmer Bob left for the barn that morning… .” I had no idea what he read as I was trying to figure out when my own turn would come.
“Can anyone tell me which word Jonny missed?” Good grief, did she really expect us to answer her and embarrass our friend? “No one knows? Well, it was the third word in the second line. He left that word out.” Yeah, well, if he left it out and no one noticed, maybe the word was not all that important anyway, right? The stress was, definitely, giving me a bad attitude towards this exercise.
“Sojourner, please, stand and continue the reading.” The tight ball in the pit of my stomach instantaneously expanded to fill every bit of this now-empty sack, which felt like it was on fire. At least, Jonny’s mistake had brought my attention to the place where I should continue to read.
“Stop! Sojourner, read that sentence again.” I reckoned it was too much to hope that she’d been distracted and hadn’t heard me read it the first time?
“When Farmer Bob had been milking the cows for about an hour, his wife came to tell him that she’d just been called to go to the church to… ,” I read with even less confidence, my face flushing red hot.
“Stop! Read that sentence again, please. Class, listen to how Sojourner says the word b e e n.” Mrs. C instructed the kids while looking straight at me. I whipped through the mental phonics cards as fast as I could, beads of perspiration popping out on my forehead and upper lip. What could I be doing wrong? “Sojourner, we’re waiting. Repeat, please.” Shuffling my feet and choking back tears of embarrassment, I tried to speak.
“When Farmer Bob had been milking the cows for about an hour, his wife came to tell him that she’d just been called to go to the church to help set up for the wedding.” I stopped reading and figured no one really cared that the pastor had called her because Mrs. Jones had taken sick and they needed a substitute that morning.
“Now, Class, who noticed the way Sojourner said the word, b e e n?” To my great horror, all of those 11-year-old kids threw their right hand in the air. What’s up with that? These kids are my friends! But, alas, it was not going to end there. Things got worse!
****Authority Figures: Teacher, Mrs. c, Conclusion… Coming Tomorrow