When I met my dad on the mainland he picked me up in his old Toyota and we’d drive south to meet Amy, the lady who was suppose to teach me how to read and write like the kids in my class. Unfortunately for me, however, the appointment was on Mondays so I missed Monday Night Football which really hurt because my older brother and I would watch Monday Night Football every week and even though I didn’t really care about the teams or know the players, it was still fun to hang out with him. Instead my dad and I listened to the game as we drove. 710 KIRO radio was okay, but wasn’t the same as watching it with Ryan, my big brother.
One thing that was a real plus, though, was that my dad would take me to Burger King, which was one of the few times I’d got to eat fast food. We’d both order woppers from the drive-thru and sodas and it felt really good to have him driving and the radio on, listening to the game and sipping soda and eating junk my mom wouldn’t have wanted us to eat, because right then, it felt like we were sorta on a team–like the guys playing football, but for my dad and I, it was us against the world and the English language which I would surely figure out with this extra special help him and my mom were paying for. I remember using napkins meticulously to cover my lap so I wouldn’t spill anything in the car, which was the first time I can remember being particular about something–I hated spilling food. I still do.
Then we arrived at Amy’s office and in the winter it would be raining and dark and it didn’t make me want to read or write or think hard at all.
Amy was a nice lady, even if she tried to get me to do stuff I really didn’t like. Her office was behind a house and it smelled sorta new, maybe it had been painted recently or something. She had shoulder length blond hair–really straight, and a horsey face and wide smile with white teeth. We sat in a room covered with inspirational posters that seemed cheesy and vague to me. Now I only remember them as colors. She asked me to read different children’s books that weren’t interesting at all. Then we would do worksheets that built my vocabulary, but also, I suspect, attempted to instill the rules of “problem” letter combos in me so I could understand combinations like GH, TH, SH, CH, and more.
At this point I knew pretty well how to read the easy words like THE, because the shape of the word itself was pretty easy to remember, even if the rules that made the sound and meaning THE weren’t. It’s funny that my parents spent all this money for this specialist to help be, because in the end the thing that helped me the most was just down the road, and my dad and I just stumbled upon it.