by: KK Duke
This story will take place when KK is about to turn five. (August, 1980)
It was a bright sunny, summer morning and Uncle Jesse was having a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper on the picnic bench outside watching KK play. Daisy was at work at the Boars Nest and the boys were off fishing, leaving KK and Uncle Jesse to man the farm as Luke would tell her when he went off without her. Uncle Jesse couldn’t believe that KK was the same baby girl that was dropped on his doorstep three and a half years ago. Everyone had told them that she was a lost cause. Because of her autism she would never be able to succeed in life. Boy would he like to show her off now to those that said she was a lost cause. Sure, there were noticeable things about her that alert people that she would have special needs in school but with a little extra help in school there shouldn’t be anything that she couldn’t tackle.
KK could, when she wanted to cooperate with Uncle Jesse or Luke, say full sentences but usually it was one or two word answers to everything. But at least she was talking. There were times when she would just throw a tantrum fit but those were times when she was stressed out about something and just couldn’t explain what was going on in her head.
Once KK learned how to walk, she explored the entire farm. There wasn’t an inch of land that KK had walked on. She just loved to explore the world around her. Uncle Jesse found it fascinating that when one of the horses was favoring a leg, the other horses wouldn’t let anyone go near it. If Bo, Luke or Uncle Jesse tried the other horses would do everything in their powers to prevent them from coming close.
One day, the three of them got busy talking to each other and wasn’t watching where KK was going. She could see that the horse was in pain and wondered what she could do to help. She walked over to where the horse was and sat down and observed them. She sat there for a moment or two and then got up and close to the injured horse. Bo looked to see that KK wasn’t where she was a moment ago and that she had wondered off to where the horse that was injured. Bo and Luke had a look of panic and started to go over there when Uncle Jesse told him to stop.
“Now look boys, they actually aloud her in. Let’s not make the situation worse by scarring the horses, making them run and then hurting K in the process. Let’s see what she can do,” Uncle Jesse said.
KK petted the injured horse. She could tell it was the leg but didn’t know why it hurt. “Ouchie?” she asked the horse which the boys could hear. The boys couldn’t believe it when the horse nodded its head in a yes motion. The horse moved a little bit and KK said, “Shoe?” The horse once again nodded yes, or at least the boys believe it did. “Uncle Jesse fix,” she said.
That was Uncle Jesse clue to slowly walk over there and try to take the horse to the barn to see if indeed it was the horseshoe causing the problem.
As soon as Uncle Jesse and the boys were in ear shot, KK kept saying, “horseshoe, horseshoe,” and pointing at it.
“Okay, KK. Now listen to me. Try and get the horse to come to me,” Uncle Jesse said.
“You promise to help the horse?”
“Yes, I promise. No harm will come to it.”
“Okay, then. “Horsies, its okay. Uncle Jesse fix shoe. He promise he won’t hurt her.” Miraculously the other horses let her guide the injured horse to him and he promptly took it to the barn. As soon as Uncle Jesse had control of the mare and the other horses were backing away, Luke picked up KK and followed Uncle Jesse and Bo to the barn.
“Shoe rubbing on foot,” KK said.
“Why do you think that?” Luke asked as they entered the barn
“Because,…” but KK couldn’t think of the words to describe what the foot looked like.
“Luke, she’s right. Look at the inside of the hoof. No wonder we couldn’t tell.” Uncle Jesse worked on fitting the horse with a new shoe while Luke taught KK how to clean out the hoof. Uncle Jesse knew then KK was a special individual.
Once in a while Aaron and Karen would come over to play. They understood they were siblings but that was the extent of their similarities. It always ended with KK crying over something. Both Aaron and Karen were much taller and heavier than KK and somehow she would get hurt in the process. KK didn’t quite understand the word sharing and didn’t understand why she had to share with her sisters.
Uncle Jesse remembered the first time that she introduced herself to Roscoe. She was mad at him for keeping Luke and Bo in jail overnight when they should have been at home entertaining her. He didn’t know who were more shocked, Roscoe and Boss Hogg, or Bo and Luke by her boldness of telling Roscoe to let Luke and Bo out of jail.
“Go KK,” Bo said encouraging her on.
“Take cousins out of jail, now,” and “Where’s the General Lee?” was all she would say over and over to him. It drove him crazy.
Normally Uncle Jesse wouldn’t have allowed her to be the pawn of the boys escape, but figured she would help them in the future so he let her get her feet wet. Besides, Boss put them in there on a false charge anyways so what’s the problem with having a little fun?
Uncle Jesse pulled her aside for a moment and told KK that the keys hanging on his belt were keys to the jail cell and to grab them and give them to Luke. He also told her that Daisy had the General waiting outside the door. KK studied the situation for a moment and then went in for the kill, grabbing the keys off Roscoe’s belt and giving them to Luke. Luke freed him and Bo and the chase was on. Ever since then she loved when Bo and Luke would race the General and fly it over every creek bed that they could find.
Boss and Roscoe were too pleased that there was another Duke in town. Boss was even madder at Roscoe for allowing a three year old to beat him.
Uncle Jesse snapped back to reality as he watched KK interacted with the animals. They just seemed to a bond in a way that no one could explain. KK accepted them for who they were and they accepted her for who she was. He did worry about KK fitting in with the other kids. Although Aaron and Karen would be there with her, he didn’t think that they would offer much protection for her.
“Uncle Jesse,” KK said as she walked towards him. “Why do I have to go to school?”
“To learn stuff.”
“Why can’t you do it?” she asked trying to get up in his lap.
“Because I’m not trained to do it. Besides you’ll be able to meet other kids.”
KK started to cry. “Sweetheart,” Uncle Jesse said, “Don’t be scared. Remember what I told you – we’ll be able to meet the teacher and some of your classmates before school start so you won’t be frightened.”
Uncle Jesse saw the Miss Tisdale riding up to where they were sitting. “I thought I bring this to you right away,” she said showing Uncle Jesse a letter from the school. “Well, I must be going so I can get all this mail delivered, bye,” and with that she sped off on her motorbike.
After she left, Uncle Jesse said, “Ever since you came along she hasn’t been asking me out on a date.” KK just looked at him with her thumb in her mouth, not understanding a word that he just said.
Uncle Jesse opened the letter from the school. He suspected that they would want to put KK in a special education class in order to help her catch up to speed with her peers. He had talked to Luke about it, indicating to him that she may not start kindergarten until the following year but instead enter a program call Young Fives which was a class for those past the preschool age, but not quite ready for Kindergarten.
What Uncle Jesse found in the letter was quite different. The principal of Hazzard Elementary, Mr. Kilgore, wrote to him that although there was some deficiency in her communication skills that she was ready to enter into Kindergarten. He also requested that he attend a meeting along with Ms. Zang (Aaron’s and Karen’s mom) and the girls at 2:00 p.m. today to discuss the children’s education. He didn’t know what to expect. It was 11 now, so he figured by the time Bo and Luke got back here, it would given him enough time to eat and shower before heading to the school.
“Hey, I need you to get down so I can call your cousins,” he said to KK and she did what she was told following right behind him.
“Law Sheep this is Shepard,” Uncle Jesse called over the CB.
A few moments later, Luke answered. “This is Law Sheep.”
“Hey I got a letter from KK’s school and the principal has requested a meeting for today at 2:00 p.m. I want you to go with me.”
“All right, we’ll be home soon. Is KK right there?”
“Yes, she’s patiently waiting for your and Bo’s return.”
“Put her on for a moment.”
“Hi,” she said as Uncle Jesse held the mic for her.
“Hey, have you behaved yourself?”
Confused, she looked at Uncle Jesse for guidance. “Say yes,” he told her.
“Yes? You already getting letter sent home from the principal about you and you haven’t even started yet.”
KK was thoroughly confused and not sure if she should laugh or cry.
“Luke, she didn’t get it, but I thought it was funny,” Uncle Jesse
“Am I in trouble?” KK asked.
“No sweetheart. One day you’ll understand though,” Uncle Jesse said.
“Okay, I’ll see you guys soon. Talk to you later, over and out.”
“K, when a letter is sent home from the principal is mostly means that you did something very wrong. I believe that the principal had my number memorized and would call me all the time about what Bo, Luke and Daisy were doing to disrupt their classes.”
“I haven’t been bad,” she started to cry.
“No sweetheart, Luke was teasing you,” Uncle Jesse said as he consoled her. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
A few moments later KK asked, “If I didn’t do anything, then why the letter?”
“I don’t know. They want you and your sisters there at the meeting. Who knows, KK? Let’s go inside so I can make lunch for you guys before we leave.”
When they got there, Ms. Zang didn’t know why they were there either. “I tried calling Mr. Kilgore but he told his secretary that everything would be explained in the meeting.”
Soon Mr. Kilgore came out of his office to greet everyone.
“Ms. Zang, I presumed,” he said shaking her hand.
“Yes, Mr. Kilgore.”
“And, Mr. Duke. How long has it been since I talked to you last?”
“Oh, at least 10 years. Sir, you remember Luke and Bo”
Both boys stuck out their hands to greet the principal that not too long ago was calling their Uncle, telling what trouble they had gotten into. “I hope this one,” pointing at KK, “Isn’t like the three older ones.”
“Oh, I don’t think so. But you never know – she’s a Duke.” Mr. Kilgore was not amused by Uncle Jesse statement.
“I would like to speak to Mr. Duke and Ms. Zang first and then I’ll ask for the kids to come in after.”
“Mr. Kilgore, is it okay if Luke comes in with me. I can explain why once were in the meeting.”
“Sure that’s not a problem.”
The four of them, Mr. Kilgore, Ms. Zang, Uncle Jesse and Luke walked into a conference room and the door shut.
“Now what?” KK asked.
“Now we have to be patience and wait,” Bo said.
“Why are we here?”
“I don’t know, K. I don’t know what they’re discussing.”
“Should I be worried?”
“I don’t know why you should be?”
“Mr. Kilgore, Luke is KK’s primary caregiver so that why I asked him to be involved in this meeting. I’m still her guardian, but these two have a strong bond and sometimes, because of the autism, he’s the only one she’ll communicate with.”
“Yes, I have reviewed her file. I must congratulate you and your family for all the work you have done with her. Hazzard Elementary has seen it’s fair share of student with this disorder and so far, KK is the most prepared child with autism that I have seen to enter Kindergarten. She does have some problems with reading and speaking in entire sentences but as the year goes on those skills should come about.”
“So then why are we here?” Uncle Jesse asked.
“Here the situation. I only have your three children entering our kindergarten program this year. To have a class for only three children is not cost-effective. What I have decided, if its all right with all of you, is to put these kids in the first grade.”
“Wait a minute, K going into the first grade?” Luke asked, not believing what he was hearing.
“KK is smarter than what you might tend to believe. She excels in math and science and most of everything that she was tested for. Granted English skills will need to be worked on, but she’s not that much behind. Most kids don’t always speak in complete sentences until they have been attending school for a while. She’ll be fine.”
“Sir,” Uncle Jesse interrupted, “The other problem is a lack of social skills. She’s afraid of going to school. She doesn’t know any other children besides her sisters and I afraid to say that they don’t quite get along that well either.”
“There will be a time of adjustment and hopefully KK can meet her teacher before the start of the school year. Just call my office the week before school starts and I will arrange something,” Mr. Kilgore said.
“Well, it’s fine with me if the girls enter the 1st grade. I’m sure they are more than ready,” Ms. Zang said.
“I guess. I’m not too sure about this but…”
“Worse case scenario, Mr. Duke is that if it’s not working out we’ll take her out of that class and send her to another school district for Kindergarten, but I have faith in the kid. She should do quite well. Also, she will have help. Not all first graders are at a 1st grade level in each subject.”
“Okay then. We’ll see what happens.”
“Let’s bring the girls in and explain to them what’s going on.”
The girls were told about the situation about why they were being placed in the first grade. It didn’t matter to KK one bit because she didn’t even want to go to school, but Aaron and Karen took it as a badge of honor of being able to skip a grade. Before they knew what had hit them KK, Karen, and Aaron would become well adjusted at school and making friendships that would last a long time.
Writer’s Note: Yes, I know that wasn’t a real adventurous story but it had to be told so that it would explain in the “It Wasn’t Suppose to Happen” serial why KK was only seven and in the third grade.