Monday, September 9, 2013

Because She Believed In Me (short story) (2 of 2) by Leanne Dyck

Because She Believed In Me (continued)

At home, away from my classmates' prying eyes, sheltered in my mother's arms, I cry. I don't tell her why.

"Sh-h-h, honey." She tries to comfort me. "Things will get better."

I don't believe her.

One day she tells me, "The teacher says you need special help." She can't hide the disappointment in her eyes.

Recess is no longer a time to run and play--no, not for me. Instead, my "special" teacher and I are squirreled away in the only available classroom--the kindergarten room. There on miniature brightly painted furniture I struggle to catch up.

Catch up, become normal. I wonder if this is possible.

My classmates know.

"Baby, retard," they label me.

And I believe them.

"I can't" and "help me" become my most used phrases.

Despite the opinions of some educators and social workers, my parents continue to believe in the soundness of my intellect. Their challenge is to reveal it to me.

My mother attempts to teach me to cook, to back, to sew, to knit. I greet each invitation with a roar. "No! I can't! I'm too stupid!"

"I can teach her," my grandma says. "I can reach her."

My grandma says, "With tender care, among the thorns grows a rose."

My grandma is a sorceress. She works her magic on everything from seeds to flour to yarn. She chooses me as beneficiary of the secrets of her craft.

Visiting with my grandma is a treat. I love to sit beside her as she spins her magic.

When she begins to teach me to knit, I want to throw the needles, I want to storm away but I can't. I can't act that way in front of Grandma. I have to try.

One tentative stitch leads to others. My inner critical voice slowly begins to be silenced by her kind encouraging words --"You catch on so fast! Your stitches are so even! You're finished already?!"

I am empty -- she fills me.

She teaches me the knitting basics. I learn to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off. I knit a square. I knit more squares and make a doll's blanket.

I am so proud.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm not stupid.


One day, my mother asks, "Why don't you join the new 4-H knitting group?"

"I can't..." I begin.

"Grandma would be so pleased to hear that you are continuing to learn to knit," she says, gently pushing.


Organized through the school, the first day of 4-H, our regular classrooms take on new purposes. The grade eight room becomes the sewing room. The grade nine room is set aside for knitting. I creep in.

A gang of teenagers confronts me. "What are you doing here? You're too young to learn to knit! Knitting is for teenagers!"

Meekly, I reveal my knitting sample.

"You knit that?" they ask, amazed.

Thanks to Grandma's lessons, I earn my membership in this important group. Through the group, I develop friendships and for the first time in my life, I feel like I belong.

The 4-H year concludes with Achievement Day. It is a day to gain recognition for our new skill. First, second and third prize ribbons are distributed. That first year of 4-H, I am thrilled to discover a first prize ribbon placed beside my garter-stitch scarf and stitch samples.

I am proud to report that the achievements I made in knitting eventually translate into academics and I graduate from High School with an award in Language Arts. After High School, I earn high marks in university English classes.