The Year I Turned Shy

My Real Memoir

Me? Shy? Hard to believe, I know, but up until Kindergarten I’d never had any friends my age. When I finally met some, they seemed weirdly normal. I didn’t know how to be with them. Weird Eddie had been twice my age and utterly unique, and Crazy Old Alice had been, well, crazy and old.

One exception: Cheryl, the two-year-old from next door, was too young. She’d follow me around and do what I did, which was flattering, but dangerous—I still have the scars to prove it. Although, when Cheryl friended me on Facebook too-many-years-to-admit later, she did seem to have matured considerably. She’s now my official oldest friendship.

Fall arrived. Chucko the Birthday Clown, a local TV celeb, was the star of our school kick-off event. He invited all the kids to come forward. I was the only one who didn’t go. I wanted to be near Chucko, but all of those kids? Terrifying!

So I decided the best way to interact with others…was not to. Except the outcasts. My new teacher Miss Peggy told my parents that I’d stand between them (the Weird Eddies) and the bullies. Miss Peggy was wonderful. She radiated kindness, plus she had a dog named Frieda, and my babysitter Frieda had a dog named Peggy, which was impossibly cool!

Things came to a head when another first-grader had a birthday party and invited everyone in our class. Thinking this could be a turning point, Mommandad pushed me into going. I still remember being deposited in that strange house’s entryway, surrounded by “normal” kids in party hats. I wouldn’t go any further, even when the kid’s mom offered me cake and ice cream. I pulled the front door across the corner and hid there until my parents finally agreed to take me home.

A short time later, Miss Peggy called, concerned that I wasn’t learning how to read. I’d stumble over even the simplest words in our Dick and Jane books. Mom laughed. “Are you kidding? He’s been reading since he was a toddler!” She called me to the phone and had me read the current headline story from our newspaper. That was when the light bulb lit over Miss Peggy’s wonderful head.

Miss Peggy’s new After-School Reading Circle launched days later, and I was an inaugural member. That little circle was my heaven on earth. With just a handful of other kids around me, I not only read fearlessly, but was soon helping Miss Peggy, the love of my life, coach the others!

Later that month, I met my first BFF, or the training wheels version, at any rate. His name was Stevie. Stevie was nice and popular, and I was hopelessly envious of his flaming red hair. It was just like Dick’s hair…

In the Dick and Jane books!

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to The Year I Turned Shy

  1. This brought back childhood memories for me! I learned to read with Dick and Jane curriculum. Loved this post 👏🏾✨

    Liked by 3 people

  2. cindy knoke says:

    I had that book and a child and kept it and taught my children to read with it. I loaned it to a friend when she wanted to teach her kids, and she claimed she lost it….not like it still bugs me or anything!!! 😉 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  3. gifted50 says:

    A grea, funny and relatable story.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Ah, the memories this brings to mind. I was shy and yet I couldn’t stop talking in first grade. I can’t explain it, but it’s true. An introvert who couldn’t shut up. I tried to be quiet, I really did. But I kept thinking of one more thing that I HAD to say.

    My teacher thought I was a slow reader, too. I soon showed her! Dick and Jane, those were the days! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. BrittnyLee says:

    Teachers like Peggy make the world a better place for kids. So happy you had a great teacher

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sittin’ here with the biggest lump in my throat.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Your stories DO conjure up memories, Mitch! My heroine-teacher was Mrs. Sturgess, 2nd grade. The first time our class went to the school library, I headed to the middle-elementary books. One of the librarians tried to steer me to the beginner-reader section where my classmates were. But Mrs. Sturgess stuck up for me. “It’s all right–she can read those books.” I’m so thankful for teachers in the early grades who encouraged and made learning fun.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I tried to contact you about doing stories on “Our American Stories” but I got a message that it didn’t go through. You might have a look at their website to see if it’s a good fit for you. They also link stories to websites (and books).

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I love that photo of you and the dangerous-but-cute Cheryl! As for the Dick and Jane books, I hated them, so boring and not enough new words!!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. liked hearing about the friends you made and that (I think?)) you’re not so shy anymore xx

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Jennie says:

    I so enjoyed reading this, Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Wonderful post Mitch 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Expressing My True Self | Mitch Teemley

  14. Ann Coleman says:

    I remember those Dick and Jane books, and I loved them! But I’m so glad you had a wise teacher who finally figured out that all you needed was a smaller group of children rather than a huge classroom full to adjust to. And I loved how, even when uncomfortable in your surroundings, still found the courage to stick up for someone who was being bullied. That’s a sign of a good character, I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Susie Ries says:

    I took my Dick and Jane book home the first day of first grade and read the entire thing, figuring I wouldn’t have to go back! I was wrong. I taught myself
    To read from the Sunday funnies I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: The Year I Turned Shy – No ay Dos Vidas Se disfruta está o te mueres Sin disfrutar

  17. Pingback: My All-American Friend | Mitch Teemley

  18. Pingback: My Teacher Turned Me Into a Martyr! (I Got Better) | Mitch Teemley

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