When I was six years old, and going to first grade at Lincoln Grade School in Chicago, my first grade teacher, Mrs. Griffith, told my parents that she couldn't get me to read.
I had learned all the letters and sounds the previous year in Mrs. Stocking's Kindergarten class. All that was left was to put it all together and read. That evening, my father sat me down with my reading textbook and had me read to him. Though it was over 40 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember my father correcting my pronunciation of the word "grandfather;" I'd pronounced it "grand-fat-her." The "th," he told me, was one sound (a "dipthong", as I learned as a teacher).
By the next day, I'd finished the textbook, and my love affair with reading had begun.
My parents had bought a set of World Book Encyclopedias before any of us could read. My brothers and I would go through the encyclopedia and look at the pictures and speculate on what they were about, and sometimes ask my mother what they were about. I discovered, to my delight, that now that I was reading, I could read those articles myself.
I've read a newspaper just about every day since I was seven or eight years old. I can't eat my breakfast without a newspaper in front of me (sometimes the electronic version of the New York Times). When I was 11 or 12 years old, my father, ironically, exasperated with my constant reading, made me go 24 hours without reading (I cheated, and managed to sneak some reading in).
Last year, I got a new prescription for vision correction. I got new contacts, and put off new glasses. My optician told me that this was going to be the prescription that I'd need reading glasses. Sure enough, when I put my new contacts in, I discovered that everything close to me had gotten blurry.
I was able to use the store-bought reading glasses, but it wasn't that good. A few weeks ago, I finally went to Vision Works and had them fill my new prescription in glasses-- my first bifocals.
I got the call that my new glasses were in, and went to try them on. I was amazed. My father had had difficulty adjusting to bifocals-- he got dizzy. I had no such problem. I had the "progressive" lenses-- no lines.
They had a great deal; I got two pairs of glasses for $207. I highly recommend this company-- the service was great, and the glasses were made faster than promised. Since I got two pairs, I got one pair that's reasonably fashionable, and another pair that is bigger--my "Swifty Lazar glasses," I call them, for when I'm at home reading.
I can't tell you how nice it's been to be able to read comfortably again. I have a lot of reading to do for school, and I love reading my New york Times everyday, but I'm also really enjoying reading for pleasure again. I'm reading Michael Wallis' revisionist biography of Billy the Kid, "Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride," and have previewing what looks like a great biography of Eisenhower. I'm also looking at a book called "Heat," about global warming, and "The Republican War on Science."
Like my growing amount of grey hair and crow's feet, my new need for bifocals is a sign of age. But, as my mother points out, getting older beats the alternative.