Hey, you don’t know me, but I herd you needed some in couraging so I wanted to write you.
My name’s Sean—please to meet you—I just failed the fifth grade.
I’m serious. I just up and failed school this year. It’s a long story, but I feel pretty dumb bout it.
Anyway, Teacher said we was supposed to write how we talk when we write letters, so that’s what I’m doing. Thing is, I probably shouldn’t, cause Mama said I use the word “ain’t” too dang much.
I promised her I wouldn’t use it no more. Unless, course, I half to, on count a I can’t think of a better word.
Anyway, I really want to be a writer when I grow up, but I don’t know if it’s ever gonna work out, cause I’m obviously not very smart. But I’m trying to keep my chin up bout it.
Whenever I start to feel crappy bout my own self, from failing fifth grade, Daddy said I should look in a mirror and say:
“World. You ain’t seen nothin yet.”
Well, I feel kinda dumb doing that, but he says it works pretty good. And he’s usually right.
I ask Mama about writing tips all the time since I’m plannin to be a writer. She helps me a lot. Mama went to college and she knows more than your average mama. She said I got a long way to go.
For one thing, she tole me to quit using the word “Mama” whenever I write about her. Stead, she says I should use the word “Mother,” cause she didn’t raise no hick.
And she thinks I need a dictionary cause I dont spell to good.
So it was my own fault I didn’t do good at school, I didn’t get good grades. But the main reason is cause math hasn’t never made sense to me.
Who gives a dang about math? It’s not like I’m gonna be walking along and all the sudden the president is gonna come up to me and say, “Hey kid, you know what a coefficient is?”
I generally sorta blanked out whenever Teacher talked math, cause the more I tried to figure out what she’s saying, the more lost I was.
Teacher called me to her desk once and asked why I was such a crummy student, and I just told her I couldn’t seem to get all that long division mess.
She said I was a lazy child, and didn’t have no business coming to school if I weren’t gonna try.
But I was trying. Fact, seems like the more I tried the worse grades I kept on getting. I wish I wasn’t so dumb.
And now you know why I’m writing you, cause I sorta know how you feel when you get sad sometimes.
One thing I do know is I like to write stories. Might not be no writer yet, but my daddy says I’m pretty good and I trust him.
I write all the time and I have fun with my stories cause they are just for me, not for no grade. And Daddy says if you have fun doing something you’re automatically good at it even if you suck.
Once, I wrote about the time Danny Martin put a garden snake down the dress of Susan Williamson. And how she slugged him so hard it loosened his front teeth and the dentist said he had to get in-plants.
I wrote about when I peed myself in the third grade when I was getting a award for graduation. There were a million folks in the gymnasium and I let all my pee go. I couldn’t hold it one second more. And everyone saw it.
Buddy, I was so dang barrest from that one.
So anyhow, that’s what I do, stead a feeling so bad about failing all the dang time. I just do like Daddy said and make life into funny stories so I can laugh bout it.
Daddy says not to feel bad about screwing up in school. He says if I pay a little more attention in class I’ll be doing okay.
And as far as being an author goes, he thinks one day I can be whatever I want, long as I try hard.
Maybe you an me ain’t so different. So what if we don’t do good as everyone else? And so what if we ain’t super fast or good at math? Least we try. And we have people who love us.
You got me. I got you. And we both got love.
So, I say this to any child who feels stupid, ugly, fat, bad at sports, poor, sad, or slow like me. And to anyone who fails when everyone else is succeeding.
I want you to look into a mirror and say these words with all your heart:
World, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Steve Winfield - April 15, 2019 6:51 am
And boy did you prove em wrong! Love you! Steve
Linda - April 15, 2019 9:19 am
Wow! A mini Sean – you are going to do just fine. Do not worry about using “ain’t” – sometimes it just fits.
GaryD - April 15, 2019 9:34 am
I wish someone would make a movie of your life . There would be some sad parts I know but there would also be a heap of inspiration in there too .
Amy - April 15, 2019 10:14 am
Great article! Truer words have yet to be spoken!
Brenda - April 15, 2019 10:20 am
Just what I needed this morning. I will read this to my grandson on the way to school. He really needs the encouragement . Thank you
Naomi - April 15, 2019 12:02 pm
Young man, your parents need to get you a tutor to help you with your English. I used to tutor kids for free. Maybe you can find someone yourself. Try asking at your public library. One of my friends is an elementary school teacher. He stays after school and works with students who are struggling in their classes.
Becky Hanks - April 15, 2019 12:10 pm
I took an English Literature course at Samford University in pursuit of an English Masters degree. (BTW I didn’t finish: my son turned into a teenager and I got distracted.) One of the finest pieces we studied was written by a Southerner who wrote in our young friend’s style. And it made into the canon of works required for the course. It was written in Southern vernacular and was one of the most memorable and most important pieces of Literature I have ever read, and I have read a lot. If you can, please tell your young reader he is already doing important work. I encourage him to study the masters to hone his art so that he can continue to write “with intent” to make his beautiful voice heard.
Joe Patterson - April 15, 2019 12:14 pm
Thanks again you are my new LEWIS and I thought he was gone
Connie Havard Ryland - April 15, 2019 12:47 pm
Dang it Sean. You make me tear up every morning. I wish every person who needed to hear that would read it. School was never a problem for me. My life was so screwed up, school was escape and I loved every day of it. But still, there are days I look in the mirror and just have to keep telling myself I’m not that kid anymore. I got out and I did pretty good. Love and hugs.
Johnny Parker - April 15, 2019 1:42 pm
Sean, this may well be your best story yet. I am 70 years old and I have loved to play the guitar since I was a teenager. Only problem is, I’m lousy at it. But thanks to you, I’m gonna look at myself in the mirror and say, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Pat - April 15, 2019 2:36 pm
Gotta say this was VERY hard to read……………………
kathleenivy - April 15, 2019 4:04 pm
So, people (adults and children) who struggle in this way with math often have a learning disability called Dyscalculia. (Silly name, but there it is.) And this invisible struggle takes a heavy toll on the self esteem, as demonstrated in the piece here. When young people get support for the learning disability, and learn ways to cope effectively with it, their self confidence can recover. Learning disabilities (I have them) are not a lack of effort. Our brains are complex and can therefore be “wired” in different ways. I am glad that more and more people in Education are learning about this so fewer children experience the sorrow and struggle so clearly illustrated here. I am glad you survived it, and I am glad I did too. Big hugs to you Sean.
Grace Murdock - April 15, 2019 4:55 pm
Should go worldwide.
Linda Moon - April 15, 2019 8:15 pm
On behalf of all the different kinds of kids and learners I worked with for more than 30 years: Thank You, Sean!
Jack Darnell - April 16, 2019 2:53 pm
Okay, smarty pants imma try that ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’ thing. If your daddy said it works, it must work. I’ll let you know…..
Good one again,
Sherry & jack
Charaleen Wright - April 17, 2019 3:51 am