Thursday, February 02, 2006

NFTV: The Texas Map Mystery

When my son went to first grade I waited three weeks, then I met with his teacher. She was a fabulous lady and perfect for him. I brought her some books so that he might be a person in a classroom of kids, but the gesture wasn’t needed. I saw as soon as I met her, he already was. We spoke a short time—the usual mother and teacher stuff. Then the conversation began.

It was always hard for me, being an educator with such a brilliant child, to talk to teachers about my son. I was ready for them to say Of course you think that, you’re his mother. That was the reason I always waited at least three weeks before I met with them. I wanted them to have time to find out for themselves.

When the small talk was out the way, I said, “I think there is something you might not know about my son.”

“Yes,” Ms. C. said.

“He’s been reading since he was 2 and a half, and I don’t think he wants you to know.”

“He’s done a good job of keeping his secret,” she smiled. “I didn’t know.”

“I kind of figured that when he was bringing home ABC books from the library, when he’s reading the Doubleday Children’s Atlas at home. He doesn’t like people noticing him. ”

“I understand,” Ms. C. said. “Tell me everything I should know.”

So I did. We talked for about an hour. I told her about his fascination with maps, and countries, and states. How he’d papered his room with maps of the world. I said if she ever needed a geography teacher, she had one right there sitting in the third row. She made a point of writing that down.

From that day forward doing free time, my son was allowed to use the overhead projector to draw maps. Soon he had a small group of boys who made maps too. They called themselves the Map Club of First Grade. Unknown to me they cajoled their parents into buying them copies of a then available Road Atlas for kids, a small softcover book, so that they could play school at school.

I found out all about this when the there was a fair at school. The mother of one son in the Map Club joined me to talked by the punch bowl.

She said, “My son is in your child’s Map Club and he loves it. He pours over that map book every night." She went on to describe maps all over their house and map questions day and night. "But I do wonder about one thing," she said. "We live in Texas and he’s always drawing Alabama. Can you tell me why?”

Boy was I glad I wasn’t about to take a drink of my punch just then. Sure I knew why.

“Oh that’s easy to explain. Alabama is the first state alphabetically. With my son in charge, they won’t get to Texas until somewhere around Grade 3. Tell your son it’s okay to skip ahead.” Shortly after we parted company. She had the information she had come for. I had my story to tell.

Oh that child of mine and his letters . . .

Some things in life change and change. Some things always will be.
—me strauss Letting me be


mojo shivers said...

Your son and his club reminds me of me and my friends in elementary school. We used to write reports for the hell of it when our teachers expressly told us it couldn't be for extra credit.

We didn't care.

I honestly like finding out things I never knew before... especially if it isn't for a grade.

ME Strauss said...

Hey Mojo,
You were a writer always even a child. That's so cool. You're right you and my son have a lot in common. Maybe that's why I think so much of you.

garnet david said...

Sweet story. I think Texas should be spelled with a non-existent letter way after the alphabet. Ooops, I let something bother me...Oh well, give me a few years.

ME Strauss said...

Hey there! What a big smile your comment just gave me. I'll make up a letter for you. Texax is actually a quite nice place to live. The people are really nice there. Ask Toadmaster. He'll tell you.

Trée said...

Wonderful story Liz. I love maps and flags and could get lost in either for days on end. Especially in a big leather chair by the fireplace with just a little bit of tea. :-)

ME Strauss said...

Thanks Tree,
What a lovely image! Playing with maps and flags in a big leather chair sounds like a nice way to spend an evening.