Valentine Protocol, Penmanship, and Pride


I wish my artwork was (is) this good.

I wish my artwork was (is) this good.

When I was a little girl, I loved February:  Valentine’s Day is in February.  So was my birthday; that’s a story for another day.

My whole class got ready for Valentine’s Day for weeks.  Everyone brought a shoebox to school, and we decorated it with crêpe paper flowers and hearts. I had lots of shoe-boxes to pick from on account of everyone getting new hard sole shoes at Baldy’s shoe store way back in September, special for school starting.

Art stuff was hard for me.  I got paste all stuck in my hair and all over my clothes.  I liked to taste paste, too.  The smell got all up in my nose and begged my fingers to put some in my mouth. Yummy.  Teacher said it was no good and would make me sick, but it never did.  Not even a little bit.

Mom brought home little store-bought cards in big bags from the grocery store, and I printed MY name on the back.  Then I got to choose which card went to each student in my class.  I had two Bettys in my class and two Lindas.  I’ve heard about kids being sore or sad that they didn’t receive a card on Valentine’s Day.   I gave a card to everyone, and I got one from everyone, too. That’s just mean to leave someone out.  Who  got which card was the tricky part.  I wanted to make sure I express my love for that certain someone in just the right way.  Should Frankie’s say “Be Mine” or “Forever Yours”?  And what if Frankie’s to me just said, “Friends”?  What if he gave me the ‘teacher’ card that came in every box?  That would be the worst ’cause that meant he never even thought about which card he gave me.

I almost flunked out of Kindergarten ’cause I went haywire on my writing.  Valentine’s Day saved me.  All year, up until I had to get my cards ready for the party, I wrote my name  wrong.   Mom talked about my printing to everyone who would listen:   all my aunts, Grandma Z, and even Betty’s and Nancy’s moms.

Mom said, “Why do you write your name like you’re looking in a mirror?”IMG_2812

I looked at my name, clear as day, just the way it was supposed to be.  What in the world was she talking about?  I wrote just like everybody else.

Mom said I had to get my name right or I might not go to First Grade.  She never said that to me; I just heard about that part later.  She sat right beside me while I put my name and every single Valentine Day card letter by letter, even Frankie’s.  Mom made sure I turned all the letters round.  Each letter marched across the page from left to right.

After 42 cards, my printing was, well, right.  I got so proud of my name, I wrote it every time I got a chance.  The best place was right by the back door, under the light switch.  I used my favorite Crayola for that:  red.  Red was my favorite color.  I got to look at my name every time I went out to the bus, or out to do the barn chores, or when I fed the chickens.  For years I saw my proud work looking back at me.

Back then, nobody knew about dyslexia.  There were no special classes, or learning disabilities.  I was lucky.  My mother took the time to re-train my brain.  I can still write like that, as easily as the right way.  It’s a fun trick to show to the grandkids.  But then again, many schools are no longer teaching cursive, so some don’t even understand the trick.

As for Mom, the last time she commented on my penmanship she said, “You still float the “l.”  I never noticed that.

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2 thoughts on “Valentine Protocol, Penmanship, and Pride

  1. Oh, what a touching story. You are very lucky your mom helped retrain your brain. Even though people are aware of dyslexia today, it’s still very difficult to work with. I find it interesting that you thought what you were writing looked correct. I used to get glue all over me too! I just about smelled it when you mentioned it.

    • I am very lucky to have my mom; especially considering I am the second of nine children. I wonder how she had the time to sit there with me and with all those valentines. I remember that day clear as yesterday. I still have some problems with number and letter reversal. The nice thing is, I can read upside down easy-peasy, and I can understand molecular structure because my mind understands the three-dimensionality of things. I read this is also common with dyslexia. The down-side: I get lost in space. (I never got diagnosed with dyslexia, but I know I have some of the traits.)

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