A Childhood memory

Zhaneel’s Post reminded me that I had written something several months ago which I had intended to post. Actually, I did post it — as a Private Entry because I wasn’t entirely happy with how it had come out. I just went back and cleaned it up a bit, and now I’m posting it as a public entry…

When I was in first grade, I made friends with a girl named Tasha. Tasha had been blind since birth, and occasionally needed the help of a sighted guide to navigate around the school.

There were of course some interesing “perks”. We got to leave class a couple of minutes early – one of the things I did, was help Tasha get from the main classroom to the “special-ed” room at lunch and after school. I sometimes spent lunches in the “special-ed” room which included, among other things, a soccer ball that beeped, other sound-based toys, and braile typewriters. Braile facinated me, and I even began to learn who to read and write braile.

I once asked my mom why Tasha wore sunglasses if her eyes didn’t work.
“She’s probably sensitive about her eyes,” was the reply. When she noticed my look of confusion, she continued: “You’ll understand when you’re older.”

My mom was absolutely right. At the time, what I took her statment to mean was that Tasha’s eyes were sensitive; as in even though she couldn’t see, light could cause her discomfort. I imagined a situation similar to looking at a very bright light (like the sun) and having it hurt my eyes, only this was the effect caused by normal light levels for Tasha. (What I actually remember my mom saying was: “She’s probably sensitive around her eyes.”)

As much as the “You’ll understand when you’re older…” line irked me when I was a kid, sometimes it’s true.

I was curious about Tasha’s blindess, but didn’t see it as a reason to tease her (as many other kids did), or take pity on her (as many adults did). It was just a part of what made her unique. I think the fact that I treated her – for the most part – as just another kid was why she opened up to me, and began opening up more to the world. She began participating more in her regualr class such.

Her teachers noticed the change. I didn’t know it at the time, just as I didn’t notice the change in Tasha’s behavior that the school did, but there were plans to track us together — we would have been placed in the same classes through elementary school, and probably junior high and high school as well.

Near the middle of second grade, the my school district had a strike. My mother, being a teacher in another district – supported the strikers, and kept me home from school. 2 or 3 weeks in, she talked to the principal of her school, and I was allowed to join a second grade class in there, so I wouldn’t fall too behind. The strike was over week or two later, and I returned to my original school.

The following year, my sister and I transferred to the district in which our mom worked, and I lost touch with everyone I knew at my previous shcool; including Tasha.

From time to time, I think about her. I wonder how she is, what’s she’s doing now, if the school ever found someone else to track her with – that sort of thing.

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Robert Belknap has been writing online sporadically since 2001. See the colophon for more details.

One thought on “A Childhood memory”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. And i’m glad that I spawned an entry… kinda. 😉

    Can you still read/write braille? I learned a little back in high school, but never kept it up.


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