This may be tooting my horn, but, well, I'm just going to say it, I was really good at first grade. Things like reading and spelling came easy to me. In fact, my first grade teacher, we'll call her Ms. H., even had me help struggling classmates with their spelling words, puffing me up like a peacock.
When I entered first grade, the school was just implementing a new method to teach reading, known as the Letter People. Mr. C – Cotton Candy, Mr. D – Delicious Donuts, Mr. L – Lemon Lollipops, Mr. M – Munchy Mouth. Inexplicably, I remember being hungry a lot at this age.
Nonetheless, I breezed through first grade, with possibly an unnatural affection for oddly shaped characters and gratuitous alliteration, but also with a great deal of confidence in my spelling prowess.
Riding high on my first grade successes, I charged into second grade with my curly, red head full of consonants and vowels, possessing a capable grasp on how they all fit together.
It was well into the school year, and as a class, we were practicing our spelling words out loud, but individually as the teacher called on each of us. When my name was called, I braced for the challenge. My word was 'hill'. Pfff. So easy. Straightening in my chair, jutting out my chin, I sounded off.
“H, E, L, L.”
A satisfied smile on my face, I waited for my expected affirmation of accuracy.
It started with snickers, but erupted into full on shrieks of glee. Little glistening eyes filled with delight. Even Mrs. C - Cranky Crab was laughing. Eyebrows furled, looking from one to the next of them, I wondered what had gotten into these people.
Silently, I spelled the word again. H, E, L, L. Yep, that's when I heard it. A look of terror crossed my face. Would I be sent to the principal? Would there be a paddling waiting for me at home? Was I in a hill of a lot of trouble?
No cause for alarm. Mrs. C – Crusty Cow offered me a second chance to spell it. And this time, remembering my spelling rules, I put the 'i' before 'e'.