Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Because that's all I ever knew

School was never one of my best positions you know. Back in the days of PS 179 and Ditmas JHS, I could only remember my report card looking like someone bled all over the damn thing. Just a mosaic of red and black squares with a lot of “Ronald needs to do this and Ronald needs to do that” scribbled in between.

And maybe it was because there were a lot of things happening at home, I don't know. Between my dad and brother dying four years apart, and my mom looking after my little sister Isabel who was downs syndrome, there really weren't too many bed time stories being read at night or help with homework.

Yeah, maybe that was it, who knows.

So those 65’s I used to get on my report card were a real big victory you know. And as far as I was concerned it was all that mattered. A win is a win right? And a 65 is better than a 55, because a 55 means you failed in mister Sendick's class.
And who wants to be "left back?" no, only "bad kids" get left back.

But then there was sixth grade and mister Bernstein’s class…
You know I found a picture of my sixth grade class the other day and I’m real concerned that I may have been in some freaking special ed class. I started to closely study everyone’s face including mine and we just didn’t look “normal”. We had all these weird smiles and looked kind of stupid.

Oh, what did you say? Oh, I get it, maybe we were just happy that’s all. Ok, I’ll buy that. That sounds good to me.

God, but then there was the trip to the guidance counselor’s office and it was all falling apart.

Ok, so this time I hit rock bottom over at Ditmas. It was December 1969 and I was failing everything they threw at me. 40’s 50’s, 60’s, my report card was so heavy with red ink it looked like a Turkish flag. Just give me a pole to hang it on, because I give up, I’ll never pass another class again, I’m staying home.

I remember my mother crying in mister Cisco’s office while he handed her tissues. She was telling him along with another counselor that my brother just died a few months before, and maybe that may have had something to do with my poor grades.

I on the other hand was totally shocked to hear my mom say that because I thought one had nothing to do with the other. No, I just thought I sucked at school and nothing else.

But then something happened, and I really can’t put a finger on it. Well on second thought maybe I can, I left Ditmas and was accepted at the High School of Art and Design in New York City.

All the drawing I did at Ditmas while I wasn’t paying attention and skidding by with 65’s somehow paid off. A total stranger in a new school and no one knew who I was. And to help matters along the dying stopped in my family for a while. And my mom was starting to feel a lot better about life.

So you see, I guess what I’m trying to figure out after all these years, is that what goes on at home may actually have something to do with how well you do in school. And the funny thing is I never realized that one had something to do with the other.

Oh, but then again, maybe I just sucked at school
because that’s all I ever knew.

Ron Lopez

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