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"I have had a lot of dumb kids in my classroom over the years, but you take the cake, Roger Dean Kiser," said the teacher as she slapped the small ruler across her hand.
I had no idea what I should say or do. I just sat there with my 11-year-old hands folded on my desk, my eyes looking down at the floor in front of me.
"Now let us try it again. A prepositional phrase is what?" she asked.
"But I don't know what a ‘prepositional’ is," I said, about to cry.
The classroom broke out into full laughter.
"Is there anyone else in the classroom who does not know what a ‘prepositional phrase’ is?
I carefully turned around and saw that no one else raised a hand. I slowly turned my head from left to right looking at each and every face hoping to see some form of compassion from at least one of my friends, but there was none to be found.
"Let's see if Mr. Stupid can make his way to the stool in the corner and put on the dunce cap," said Mrs. Horner.
Slowly, I got up from my desk and walked over to the stool. I picked up the dunce cap, sat it atop my head and turned to face the class.
"Now sit down on the stool until the class is over," instructed the teacher.
"Maybe he really can't learn like the rest of us. Maybe there's something really wrong with him," said one of the girls sitting in the back of the classroom.
“The only thing wrong with him is that he is stupid. The reason he is stupid is because he is too lazy to try to learn.”
I sat there for more than an hour trying to turn my face away from the class. I squeezed my two hands between my knees and under my breath, I asked God if he would please help me learn about reading and writing.
I will never forget having to sit on that stool with that paper cap on my head. I will never forget sitting with tears rolling down my cheeks in front of all those girls.
Many years later, I became a non-fiction, short story writer. I have several books to my credit and have co-authored 12 other books in four countries. I operate the largest short story, child abuse web site in the world, as well as The Sad Orphan Foundation.
Unfortunately, I never did learn what a ‘prepositional phrase’ was. I guess because I have always been too afraid to ask. Last month, my prayer was answered. I returned to my elementary school where five of my books, each personally autographed, were placed in the school's library.
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