I have been writing this blog since July. I always knew the day would come. The day when I can't think of anything to write about. That day is today.
I am sitting in front of my laptop, my typing finger poised over the keyboard, ready to strike a letter and... nothing. I'm panicking. I have to come up with something intelligent to say. I can't miss a week because then, I will get out of the habit of blogging and it will be difficult to start again. What am I going to write? Then, an idea came to me.
I remember being in first grade. Every morning the teacher would print our names on the chalkboard and we were all supposed to print our name underneath. My classmates were able to print their names almost perfectly. I couldn't. My attempts to print my name looked like chicken scratches. I knew what the teacher wanted, but my brain could not get my hand to cooperate. It was humiliating to have to try, and fail, every day while the other children were successful/
Apparently, the teacher didn't realize how hard I was trying to print my name like everyone else. She did nothing to encourage me. To be honest, I think she was a little disgusted by the fact that I couldn't print name.
This morning ritual went on for months until, one day, I did it. I printed my name on a workbook. The teacher saw what I had done. There were no words of praise to acknowledge what a struggle learning to print my name had been for me. Her response was, "Well, was that so hard?" I couldn't tell her then, so I'll tell her now and hope that, wherever her spirit is, she hears me. Yes, Miss Gifford, it was.
In second grade I learned to use an electric typewriter. I didn't have to worry if I could write or not. My "Writer's Block" was gone. I could express myself and complete my classwork like everyone else.
I remember being chosen to have my picture in the School and Home Newspaper, using my electric typewriter. Quite an honor for a seven-year-old. The photographer and physical therapist came to my classroom. I was supposed to type as if no one was watching me. The photographer snapped the picture. The physical therapist got angry because I'd hit the wrong key. (This woman wore her hair in a bun all year, but took it down once a year to be a witch in the school's Halloween parade. The day of the photo, I think the witch appeared a little early.) Why couldn't she have been happy that my picture would be published and that I'd be representing the school?
I know the teachers in the sixties did the best they could, but sometimes, I still wonder where the compassion and understanding was. It may take a disabled child a little longer to complete a task. They may complete the task in a little different way, but they'll get it done. All they need is a little encouragement, understanding and love.
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