As I begin a new day, third consecutive day now, humming or singing "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain When She Comes," it reminds me how I have struggled for decades to control my thoughts.
I am grateful that in school this morning there are teachers who understand they have students who just do not think the same way everyone else does. We are not all wired the same. That is a good thing.
It is also a bad thing. It was a sad and lonely experience to be a learning-disabled child in grammar school in the 50s and 60s. You were a "dummy."
I was upper middle class, dressed well, had all the new gizmos and didn't "look" like the "dummies." I hated knowing there were children who were very smart and so capable of doing well in school if they only had the opportunity.
I was sensitive to that early, as I lived in a farming community where some kids missed weeks of vitally important schooling each year because they were sharecroppers' children. They failed whole grade levels because they were working in the fields or had been up all night working on chicken farms and couldn't stay awake.
They were so capable; they were just absent in a different way than I.
I was in attendance every day in body at least, but my mind wandered from the Congo that that morning's story was about, to the sounds on the playground, to the smells of the cafeteria to fantasies dancing in my overactive brain.
I would grieve as those children moved on to where the work was or when they became old enough to drop out of school. I also felt guilty when I was "passed" to the next grade when I clearly could not do the work.
I am today almost completely self-educated. I had to teach myself how to learn, and then learn. I can close my eyes and still drift back to that spring morning the teacher read from the book “The Congo” and smell the smells and hear the sounds on the playground that were, in my mind, transformed to jungle sounds — I was there.
I was experiencing that story so much more than anyone else in the room, but I was absent. I excelled in artistic things and was chosen to be in charge of painting the mural of the Congo on the long strip of white roll paper that was hung across the classroom.
It was perfect. It had to be; it was one of the only things I did well.
My favorite cousin is coming to visit. That's what started all this. She is brilliant. Our mothers used to compare us.
Now, I know I am brilliant in other ways, and that's okay.
I was giving her "girl directions" to come here and I said: "You'll be coming around the mountain when you come…”
So now I will go and sweep and dust and carefully arrange bed skirts as I sing and hum all day long and for the zillionth time acknowledge: "She'll be comin' 'round the mountain, she'll be comin' 'round the mountain, she'll be comin' 'round the mountain when she comes."Phyllis Touchstone is a retired postal worker who has lived and worked in Catoosa County for the past 22 years. She is a homemaker, mother of five and grandmother of four. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.