Saturday, June 6, 2015

Marshmallow Story: A Sweet Memory with Dad

School was my biggest nightmare. Unlike any other six-year-old who is super excited to wear her new uniform and new pair of shoes, I was mortified to use them. In my young mind, a teacher was a stiff old woman wearing thick glasses with hair meticulously tied in a bun. She always holds a long wooden stick that could strike trembling little hands anytime. Of course, I learned later on that a teacher is not a monster.

I can never forget my first day in preparatory school. I cried at the top of my lungs when my Mom forced me to wear my school uniform. I felt like I was a cult’s sacrificial lamb. My Mom thought that I refused to go to school because all I wanted to do was to play. I guess she failed to remember that she did not enroll me in daycare center or nursery school before she let me go to prep school. I did not even know how to write my name!

Honestly, I was not afraid to meet my teacher. I was afraid that I was not as good as the other children at school. But I could not tell that to my furious Mom. So, my Dad came to the rescue. Like a diplomat, he explained how much fun it was to go to school, to meet new friends and to learn new things. He assured me that I would have the best time of my life. It was my Dad’s mild but firm voice that made me wear my school uniform.

However, when I went to school I learned that what Dad told me were lies. It was not fun to go to school. It was I who had been made fun of. Everyone laughed at my mismatched socks. I removed those ugly socks so my classmates would stop teasing me, but my teacher scolded me for not wearing them.
I was convinced that my classmates did not like me because I did not know how to read. My face would automatically turn red whenever my teacher asked me to read what she had written on the board. Her thirty-minute period was not enough for me to finish reading, frog jumping on the lake.

I was getting zeros in spelling. My teacher talked to my mother about it several times. I got scolded for not learning anything. So, my Mom started tutoring me. Every night, she would ask me to recite the alphabet and to read what she has written on the small blackboard she bought. The blackboard was on her left hand. The ladle was on the right. Mispronounce a word. Strike. Misspell a word. Strike. I would never forget how to pronounce and spell the words, ‘bat’, ‘mat’ and ‘pat’ even if I get into a car accident today and have amnesia the next morning.

But amazingly, whenever we had quizzes (except for spelling), I kept getting perfect scores. I don’t remember how I did it but what I remember were the marshmallow packs from my Dad. He would give me his multicolored soft and sweet reward whenever I showed him my test paper with 100% mark.

The marshmallow’s gentle feel and mild taste as it melts in my mouth were the only things that made me crave for more quizzes even if I kept failing in reading. 

About the Author

J.M. Tolentino is an upcoming author of inspirational and motivational books. She is a graduate of MFA Creative Writing.