Ever since I learned to read, I loved books. Not just kids books, lots of books, almost any book – well, except for textbooks. I had a strong aversion to anything school related.
I used to make weekly trips to the county library and check out stacks of books. I had a mission; to read every book they had on the shelves. The library, on the other hand, seemed to want to thwart my efforts by imposing a limit of a ridiculously low number of books any one person could check out at one time, twelve as I recall. Fortunately for me, my school had a library as well. Yes, finding a way around rules and restrictions was another thing I loved when I was a kid.
I came up with a lot of methods to extend my reading time. For instance, after going to bed, when I was supposed to be asleep, I’d use a flashlight under the covers, with the pillow propped up to help shield the light, and I would read until the wee hours of the morning. If my parents came to check on me, the flashlight was instantly clicked off, the pillow allowed to fall, covering the book, and my head came out from under the covers to fall onto the pillow – all in about two seconds.
My cantankerous nature was not limited to just making time to read however. Rules are made to be broken so the saying goes. One day, my third-grade teacher made the mistake of telling the class we were not allowed to leave the school grounds without her permission, and if we tried, we WOULD be caught! That sounded like a challenge to me.
After a couple of days of playing by the gate at every recess – to get the teachers used to seeing me in that area - one Thursday morning, at the first recess, I slipped through the gate, disappearing around the big evergreen bushes. From there, it was simple to make it around the corner unseen. Then, I casually strolled on downtown. At two forty-five, I was standing in line to get on the bus, like normal. The next day, I arrived at school with a dubious feeling of accomplishment. I hadn’t been caught, but I couldn’t very well point that out to the teacher, or anyone else for that matter. That sort of robbed me of my sense of victory. I had to be content with just knowing that I’d done it and that the teacher was wrong.
Oh, yeah. Just in case anyone is wondering – where does a nine-year-old go while skipping school for over five hours? The library. At least that’s where I went. They had a couple of books I hadn’t read.