I USE TO BE ONE CHILL BABY, nothing bothered me. My dad would blast his jams in the car and I would be in the back, looking out the window with a smile on face. I was so calm and relaxed my mom suspected something was up…
No, I wasn’t smoking pot! Come on guys, what kind of parents do you think I have.
As it turned out, I was partially deaf. I suffered from constant ear infections and inflammation due to tonsillitis. Getting my tonsils and adenoids removed was a pain. I remember the doctors trying to get me to lay down to strap a mask to my face (the thing looked like that sack Scarecrow wore in Batman, only with tubes sticking out). They pushed me down and I would spring back up like a lever. This was a battle I was going to WIN! Eventually they gave up and had me sit in the waiting area. I sensed something was up when one of the nurses came over with a red lollipop to suck on. I put it in my mouth anyway. Poppies my pretty! Next thing I knew I was in green cubical, with an IV sticking out my arm, I could barely swallow, and my voice came out like a squeaky mouse. The horror!!!!
But it all worked out. Better to be roofied then deaf I suppose. After the surgery I went through speech therapy for about a year. My favorite teacher, Mrs. Lee, would to sneak me out of class and I got to contort my mouth, make a bunch of noises, and at the end of the day I was rewarded with a colorful candy cane. When I received my certificate of completion, I had im-pec-ca-ble ar-tic-u-la-tion. I never had to stick marbles in my mouth either, Henry Higgins would have been proud.
As fun as that was, I had some catching up to do in the writing and reading department. English is difficult to learn if you can’t hear or emulate sounds. My teachers were confused, because at the time I was already an adept drawer. I could craft beautiful letters and place them on a page like words in a sentence. Only the letters didn’t spell anything, they just LOOKED like words (sure, maybe they were words, just the kind a deaf person hears). Ultimately, my mom decided to hold me back a year so I could heal and catch up. I was young and it ended up working out for the best.
Unfortunately, English was never my strong suit. Like most things, the areas we’re weakest in are often the ones that get picked on, rather then supported. I was ridiculed for my spelling and grammar, my choice of words, and the voice I used to compensate. The more I tried and sought validation, the worse it got. It wasn’t until the end of High School I was able to let go and find confidence in my own style. Eh, I’m still working on it.
Sometimes that old pain creeps up and I find myself fighting. It’s inevitable. I’m lucky when things come out nicely, but often it’s a mess. Part of the fun is the splurge and picking out the gems. Most of the time we don’t really know what we are talking about anyway until we go about the act.
The reason I share this is we all have pitfalls and insecurities. This blog is an attempt to work on an area that may have not received as much love growing up. And sometimes our pain is a hidden blessings. I wonder how those early, quiet years developed my observation skills and sensitivity. The experience as a whole gave me the humility to put my all into work and dedicate myself to the process of learning.