Repeating First Grade

By Jane Howard Davis

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    We are well able to overcome (Num. 13:30).

    Chris awoke to the sounds of excited voices. It was the first day of school, and everyone was bustling about, trying to get back into the familiar routine. He could hear his sister, Cathy, chattering to herself as she tried on one outfit after another. She was starting sixth grade and wanted to look just right.

    Even though his eyes were closed, Chris knew from the banging of the dresser drawers that his older brother, Mike, was also getting dressed.

    Both Cathy and Mike were excited about the new school year. Chris wasn’t, though, which was why he pretended to still be asleep. “Better hurry, kid,” Mike said as he gave Chris a nudge. “You’ll miss your bus if you don’t get going.”

    “Maybe I want to miss my bus,” Chris sighed. “Then I wouldn’t have to go to first grade again.”

    Mike gave his brother an understanding look, then bent over to mess up his hair a bit. “Don’t worry,” he said assuredly, “it will only hurt today.”

    “What do you mean, ‘It will only hurt today’?” Chris asked as he forced himself out from under the covers.

    “I mean that you’ll probably be embarrassed a little today, but by tomorrow, you’ll realize that it isn’t that big a deal to anyone but yourself.”

    After Mike left the room, Chris pulled on his clothes. He remembered how the other students had teased him last year when he couldn’t read as well as they could. He especially remembered the teasing that he’d had to endure when they learned that he would have to repeat first grade. Alan Thomas had teased him the most. He wasn’t a good reader, either, and he’d often made fun of Chris during reading time so that the other children wouldn’t notice his own mistakes.

    “Ready to go?” Cathy asked as she poked her head into the boys’ room. “Dad says to hurry down for family prayer.”

    The family was already kneeling in a circle when Chris entered the living room. As he found a spot, he felt the love and comfort that prayer always gave him. It was Mike’s turn to pray. After pausing a moment to look at his little brother, he closed his eyes and began. It was a wonderful prayer. Chris liked to hear his older brother pray because he always seemed to say just the right things.

    Mike mentioned Chris and asked Heavenly Father to comfort him. He also asked Heavenly Father to prompt the other children to be kind to him and to not tease him. After the prayer, the whole family, in turn, gave Chris a little hug.

    It was hard walking into the first grade class again. Chris was glad that his mother had decided to take him that morning. As he opened the door to the classroom, he saw the familiar painted walls. Mrs. Sanders looked the same, too, and she seemed very happy to see him. “I’m glad that you came a bit early, Chris,” she began. “I need someone who can help me set up for the new students. I imagine that they’ll be a little confused.”

    Suddenly the door opened again. “Wonderful!” Mrs. Sanders exclaimed. “Now I have two students to be my helpers this morning.”

    Chris turned around to see whom Mrs. Sanders was speaking to. There, standing in the doorway and looking very uncomfortable, was Alan Thomas! Chris quickly turned in astonishment to his mom and caught her quick smile and wink.

    The day went by quickly. Chris made friends with two of his new classmates, and he even asked Alan to join them in a game of foursquare during recess.

    Chris found that he knew his alphabet better than anyone else and that he was one of the best readers in the class. He decided that he was going to like going to first grade again. Mike had been right—it really did hurt for only a little while.

    Illustrated by Phyllis Luch