Ricki the child

Episode #787

March 2, 2024

The next several blog episodes are a serialized autobiography of the iMentor.


A woman screams. Nurses rush to her side.
“It’s time,” says one. Another squeezes her hand.

It is 2am in Long Beach California. Saint Mary’s Hospital is quiet, except for the delivery room. A wailing tone vibrates around me. A pressure pushes on my feet and knees moving me from my black envelope toward a white light. The pin of light rushes around me with a stabbing flood of cold air. I fly into a bright space and hang for a moment in midair. A resounding pain strikes my back. I cough and scream. The sound of my own voice animates my arms, legs, feet, toes, neck, hands, fingers, mouth, spine. Everything that can move, moves.

Days, weeks, years later I look up into a skylight and see waving, leafy branches swaying across pure blue sky. It is the oldest color visual in my memory. It is pure nature, without judgement or prejudice.

I am standing in the living room, butt naked except for my holster belt, six shooters and cowboy hat. It is high noon and my niece, Paige, and I are about to shoot it out. In a distant corner I hear the adults snicker.

My family walks into the front door of our new Fullerton tract house. I run ahead with my sister. There is the kitchen, the living room, the hallway. Debbi runs into the first bedroom.
“This is mine!” she exclaims.
I take two more steps and enter the next room. It is a corner room with two windows. Outside one window is a tree whose branches sway across a pure blue sky.
“This is mine,” I say in wonder.

My mother and I walk into the entrance to the public pool at Fullerton Junior College. It is my first swimming lesson. I hate swimming. I am nervous and afraid. I stand at the edge of the pool watching cruel children pushing and splashing at each other. Mothers of the children are laughing. They are pointing their fingers. They are pointing at me and laughing. I turn toward the exit and run. Running into the parking lot I bolt across the street and into the back of the family station wagon. Shuddering, I peer over the back seat to my mother, who is just emerging from the pool area. A street sweeper grinds across my view, blocking my mother from my sight.

My next-door neighbor Mr. Quinn has invited us to use his pool again. As always, my father snaps the frog shaped float around my waist. I am nervous as I step into the pool, but “Froggy” holds me above the water. The drill is to paddle across the pool, touch the other side, then return to my waiting father. Dad gives me a little push and I paddle like crazy. Reaching out to the far pool edge I grab the tile molding. As I turn and proceed back across I see, out of the corner of my eye, that Froggy is gone. There he is in front of me. I keep paddling. I am swimming. Later, sitting next to the pool, Dad says, “Sorry Ricki, I forgot to let go of Froggy.”

I am dreaming of a dawning day when suddenly a darkness blocks the light. There is a loud grinding sound approaching as the maw of a street sweeper threatens to swallow me whole. I scream. I wake to the sound of the Thursday street sweeper rolling around the corner onto my street. I wish that the driver would call in sick some Thursday.

Sitting in the back of the family station wagon, my father turns into the neighborhood on Basque Ave. “Lie down Ricki and close your eyes,” he commands. “We just turned north on Basque.” I close my eyes and become one with the car. I feel a surge to the left. 
My father asks, “What direction now?” 
I say, “West.” 
“Yes, this is Porter.”

A quick turn to the right.
“Lambert, north,” I say.
A longer time passes and another right. “East,” I say.
We continue to zig zag through the neighborhood while I call out compass directions. It is a game my father and I play. It tunes my internal compass. I generally know intuitively which direction is north.

Standing outside my bedroom window, I am looking up through tree branches at a blue sky. With a leap and a batting of arms I fly past the tree, over the roof of our house and into the open sky. I hover, looking down at the neighborhood. There is my neighbor friend’s house and the side yards that we play in. As I rise above the grid of streets, I see the major roads that frame our houses and define our neighborhood. A half mile to the east is my kindergarten. I turn a slow 360 until my eyes meet the bright light of the rising sun. I close my eyes and sit up suddenly in my bed. Through my western window I see the rising sun. This dream has happened before and it will happen again.

It is the second week of class at a new school in the 2nd grade. We students all file into the classroom. The teacher taps a finger on her desk for order and speaks:
“Ok students, I expect you are all ready to present your assignment. Who will be the first to give a speech on the topic you have prepared?”
I panic. I have no memory of an assignment. I am completely unprepared. I look around desperately. My eyes stop on the pile of books under my desk. Picking the books up I see that each one is a little different. The bindings are all different. I raise my hand.

“Yes Ricki. Please stand.”
Picking up the books and putting them on my desk, I stand. Nervously, I look around the class. Everyone is looking at me. My mouth opens and nothing comes out.
“Ricki?” asks the teacher.
The words just flow out of me: “Books are put together differently.” Picking up the first book, I open it for the class to see. “Some books are glued, like this one.” I put it down and pick up the next one. “Some have staples like this one.” The last book is spiral bound. “This one has a squiggly plastic thing that holds the pages on.” I sit down.
“Very good Ricki, who is next?” My first improvisation goes thankfully well.

I am lying on a cot in our family campground on the shore of the Salton Sea. The night sky is glitter thrown onto a charcoal blanket. A wide band of milky sparkle is painted across the night with a broad celestial brush. The man in the moon watches quietly from a corner of the sky. Red flashing comets of light streak across from Pendleton to Vandenberg. I am flying with satellites as they trace their course across my imagination.

It is a hot day on the banks of the Colorado River. My father has rigged a water ski tow rope onto a harness which he slips over his shoulders. I am standing in skis in the soft sandy water of the shallows. Dad hands me the rope handle. He nods to me and I nod back.
“Hit it!” I yell.
Dad takes off running, paying out a little rope as he goes.
There is a sharp jerk, my arms pull in, I lean back instinctively and I am flying. The skis bounce on the ripply water.
“Yahooooooo!” replies my father.

Third grade is boring. Teacher drones on about writing in script. I know how to do that. Her voice changes to a blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… I make a face at the girl in the next desk. She sticks out her tongue. A few others giggle. The teacher notices, but only looks at me.
Class clown is far more interesting to me than class. After a couple of warnings, the teacher moves my desk to the back of the room and turns it around to face out the windows.
“You will stay here, Ricki, until you decide to rejoin the class.”
I spend the next three months looking out the window through tree branches at the sky. I am ignored by teacher and students, an outcast.

My mother and teacher are called into the principal’s office with three months left in the school year.
“Your child has not done any class work or passed any tests for the last three months. He is going to fail the third grade,” said the principal.
Turning to my teacher my mother asks, “How could this happen?”
“Ricki is out of control. I have isolated him from the class. He has done none of the work.”
Unbelieving, my mother said, “Listen to me. You are to give Ricki all the work. I will assure that he does it by the end of semester. Furthermore, you will give him all the tutoring necessary to complete the work.” Turning to the principal, “If Ricki can catch up, will you advance him?” Sheepishly the principal said, “yes, ma’am.”

I do the work. My mother looks over my shoulder. She does none of the work, but directs me like a very good teacher. With two weeks to spare I turn in all the homework and meet the satisfaction of my teacher. 

I have the sense that I have overcome insurmountable odds. I feel pride, as the mantle of childhood is lifted from my shoulders. 

I am advanced to the fourth grade.


“Skydivers Know Why Birds Sing” by Ricki T Thues is now available on Amazon.
It is a Love story of Rick and Paula Thues and their 35 years of Skydiving.

Click HERE to buy the paperback or Kindle ebook at Amazon.

Follow Ricki T Thues on Amazon HERE.

“Technically Human” by Ricki T Thues, the iMentor, is available on Amazon.
It is a compilation of selected episodes from this bLog which tell the story of Humanity through the eyes of the iMentor.

Click HERE to buy the paperback or Kindle ebook at Amazon.
The ebook version of “Technically Human” is also available on Kobo. Click HERE.
For you Barnes and Noble Nook readers it is available for Nook. Click HERE.
The “Technically Human” ebook is also available on Apple Books . Click HERE.




  1. Shari Pratt March 2, 2024
    • Rick Thues March 2, 2024
  2. Dave Molina March 8, 2024
  3. Chela Cowden March 13, 2024
    • Rick Thues March 13, 2024

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