As a 5-year-old kindergarten student, I visited the principal’s office on a weekly basis. When the call came over the intercom to summon me there, I was excited to go. Every trip was the same. I’d be ushered in, handed a book, and read it to our school’s principal. Most of the time it was a children’s storybook, but sometimes he would ask me to read him an article from the newspaper. He was a lifelong educator and enjoyed the novelty of having a kindergartener read to him. I wasn’t exactly reading War & Peace, but it was a few levels above “See Dick run.” Plus it got me out of class, which I appreciated even then.
I learned to read when I was three. My mom found out the hard way. She was talking to my grandma about Christmas presents and because I was in the room, decided to spell mine out. “I got Mike a T-O-N-K-A, T-R-U-C-K.” Unable to contain my excitement as that was exactly what I had asked for, I shouted out, “I’m getting a Tonka Truck!” My mom blurted out a scolding, “Michael Wayne!” before she fell into a fit of laughter as she realized what had just happened.
This reading habit has stuck with me for well over 45 years now, and in the past several months a sad realization dawned on me.
I’ve wasted a lifetime of reading.