Clammy Hands

“Maggie please report to the main office, Maggie main office.” What did I do? Did I forget something in my last class? Am I being dismissed? Did someone accuse me of something? A million thoughts run through my head as I take one step at a time to get to the main office. When I get there teachers are running in and out, the secretary answering the phone with the same monotone answer of, “Main office, how can I help you.” The copy machine sounds like it’s about to explode, but I can barely hear it over the beating of my own heart. I walk up to the desk take a deep breath and say, “Hi, I’m Maggie” the lady behind the counter wearing white rimmed glasses with gemstones in the corners, her hair curly like when you run scissors over ribbon, cuts me off and says “Ok, Mrs. Boyd will be right down to get you. Sit and wait on the bench.” So I take one step back and place myself on the old wooden bench that a million students have sat on. As I sit on the bench, I realize that I don’t know who Mrs. Boyd is or what she does here, I don’t know why I just got called out of class, I don’t know what everyone in my class is saying about me, or what rumors they were starting. Then Mrs. Boyd walks in she’s tall and skinny, pretty face with brown hair and blonde highlights, she’s wearing jeans with a white long sleeve shirt and a yellow scarf. She asks me how I was doing, and of course I lie and say good, but really I’m confused and scared. We walk down the main hall which seemed never ending that day, went down the stairs at the end of the hallway and walked into a room that I didn’t even know existed.

 

When I walk in I’m greeted by a metal cafe table, a comfy seat that looked worn out and old, a desk with a computer and some papers on it, along with posters on all the walls. Mrs. Boyd told me to have a seat and handed me a pencil and scrap paper, immediately my hands start getting clammy and I start picking at my fingers. She flips a sign on her door that says “Testing in progress” and sits down across from me with a giant white binder and what looked like a million pieces of paper in it. “Are you ready?” she asks. “Ya, I… I guess so,” I respond with. She opens the binder and starts asking me what shapes I see and how many objects are in front of me. Then she asked me to do “Fast Math” but to me all math was slow. Very slow. So slow I just didn’t understand it.  I sat in the room for what seemed to be an eternity, but in reality it was only an hour and a half. When I was done, she told me that I wasn’t done yet; I just completed the first section, and that she’d pull me out of a few classes for the next few weeks.


That day I went home and told my mom everything that happened, but amongst me talking to her I remember that in elementary school the same thing happened, the same long walk down a hallway, the same discovery of a new room, the same clammy hands, the same sign on the door, the same “Fast Math”, the same conversation with my mom. I didn’t know then why I got pulled out of class and asked all these questions and I still don’t know today why I got pulled out of class and was asked all of those questions. A few weeks later, we received a letter in the mail with the results of my tests: I was approved for an IEP. What is an IEP? What does IEP mean? Why was I being put on one? All these questions soon answered by two people that helped me discover my sense of self: my mom (bet you could’ve guessed that one) and my second grade teacher, Mrs. Scott.


My mom and my second grade teacher Mrs. Scott were my two of my biggest supporters through my first few years of having ADD. My mom, my built-in-best friend, fought over and over and over again sounding like a broken record to the school committee telling them, then soon demanding that I was to be tested and put on an IEP. As a second grader I didn’t really know what IEP or ADD meant or why my mom was going to meetings every other night all I knew is that I considered myself to be the stupid one in class because I didn’t understand math.


That’s where Mrs. Scott comes into the picture, Mrs. Scott, a short petite lady, brown hair that fell off her shoulders, glasses that made her hazel eyes pop, and a smile that lit up whatever room she walked in. She noticed that I was falling behind and struggling on homework that would come so naturally to others. Night after night my mom and I would sit at the dining room table that had the previous night's homework permanently embedded into it, over and over I would erase an answer and write a new one soon to realize that that too was still wrong. These long nights resulted in my mom writing a note to my teacher saying, “Maggie and I worked all night on this homework and she still doesn’t understand it.”  Then the next day I’d take out my math papers and note and sit and wait, wait for a classmate to ask me why its not done, wait for my face to turn beat red with embarrassment, wait for my hands to get clammy. Mrs. Scott noticed this repeated pattern and decided to talk to my mom, they came to the agreement that over the summer Mrs. Scott would come over my house one time a week and sit at the same dining room table that had homework permanently embedded into it, and work with me until I understood what was going on, with Mrs. Scott math seemed easy, it wasn’t so slow that I didn’t understand it.


Then third grade came around, which meant a new teacher. I sat patiently awaiting for my new teacher to say take out your math stuff. “Math.” There was that word again that made my hands clammy and my heart skip a beat. What was I going to do? I didn’t have Mrs. Scott this year to sit down with me to help me. I went home from school every night that year and with my mom sat at same dining room table that had homework permanently embedded into it. We finished every single math assignment I had to; all year I didn’t miss one math homework. Did I understand everything that I was doing? No absolutely not, but I tried my best to learn it, my mom bought me workbooks and I practiced on the weekends on top of my real homework.


Without my mom and Mrs. Scott, I certainly would not be where I am today. My mom and Mrs.Scott taught me how to deal with my ADD, they taught me that there are going to obstacles but that I can get over them, they taught me that things might not come as easily to me as they do for others, but with hard work I can understand those things.


Today my hands still get clammy. Today math still doesn’t come easily to me. Today I still get embarrassed. Today I am a 17 year old girl who’s graduating high school in less then a month. Today I am a girl accepted into her number one college. Today I am a girl that learned from her mistakes. Today I am stronger than I was yesterday. Today and everyday after today, I will always be a kid who suffers from a learning disability.






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