When I was in first grade, I had the most wonderful teacher. Her name was Lucy Cotton. She was all softness and sweetness just like her name implies. When I was stressed, or worried, she took me in her lap or put her arm around me and reassured me in quiet soothing tones. Even when I’d done something wrong, she still used a soft voice to correct me. She was wonderful.
Then I moved to second grade. My teacher was Pinna Gattis. She was also all that her name implies. She should have retired long before I arrived in her class. I clearly remember her saying to me on the first day of school, “You’ll never be able to write well, because you’re left-handed.” And in second grade, handwriting was everything. All my report cards that year said, “Jolie’s handwriting needs work.” At some point in the year, I started writing with my right hand, but only when Mrs. Gattis was looking. When she was on the other side of the room, I’d switch back to writing with my left hand. If she caught me, she’d slap my hand with a ruler. Needless to say, I entered third grade with little self-confidence and terrible handwriting.
It took a few years, but I eventually developed neat handwriting. I worked at it so much that when I was in college, my education professor used my handwriting as an example of “what a teacher’s blackboard handwriting should look like.” It was one of my proudest moments. (So there, Mrs. Gattis!)
I’ve been trying to remember this lately. For some reason, I can’t seem to make a straight line. All my edges on this painting are supposed to be sharp and crisp, but instead they are wobbly and fuzzy. I keep piling on the paint, but just can’t get it to come together. There have been a few afternoons this week where I’ve looked at my painting and thought, “Maybe Mrs. Gattis was right.”
I know that part of this feeling is because my main cheerleader is in India right now, but I feel a bit like a second grader today.