Ha Ha, You Are the Stupid Kid
Do you have any idea how hurtful it is to hear that statement? Ha Ha, You Are the Stupid Kid. As we were driving home from the Cubs Convention, an incident happened. We had been joking and talking about the weekend. Then, as a car was passing us, I said “Illinois” completely mispronouncing it. Bart was wondering how that happens and who says that state’s name wrong. Then, he got in the mispronunciation of “Massachusetts.”
I told him that I didn’t talk to many people from that state, so I really had no idea. That is just not a state that is at the forefront of my mind. He began bringing up all the things we had learned, growing up, in history. A lot of major things happened in the great state of Massachusetts. Then, at the end of his diatribe, he said “duh!” He was joking. I knew that but…
I Stopped Listening
In my head, I knew that he was joking, but his joking triggered an emotion in me that caused me to withdraw into myself. He knew, immediately, that he had crossed a line and he made a quick apology. Still, the chord was struck and I was quiet after that. Reflection. I began reflecting on being the stupid kid in class.
I missed the cut-off for me to start school at 5, so I started school when I was 6. There are few memories I have. I can see my teacher’s face, but I can’t remember her name. My assignment in the play was “I am ‘A’ for Achoo.” I succeeded. Also, I remember my first kiss with Jason Kinsey. Sadly, Jason went to be with the Lord a few years ago.
I also remember the teacher telling my mama that I was going to be held back in kindergarten. Apparently, I didn’t pass the assessment test in order for me to get into 1st grade. One of the questions asked how many legs a dog had. In my, almost 7 yr old wisdom, I confidently said “3”. I also remember my mama coming to the school with her giant red, curly hair saying “she’s not stupid, she’s just never seen a dog with 4 legs before!”
Let that marinate…everywhere we went, all in our neighborhood, I had never seen a 4 legged dog.
Oh, it runs the gamut. In second grade, I missed recess (daily) because I could not memorize my math multiplication facts. I had to sit out in the hall because I couldn’t remember what an adverb was. When we pledged allegiance to the flag, I couldn’t figure out my left from my right hand. In 6th grade, I remember them parading me and the other “special” kids to our class. This was a class for those who special education classes to help them learn. I was one of those kids. I can distinctly remember my fellow classmates pointing at me and laughing saying “she’s going to the stupid class for stupid people.”
Learning how to tell time was a nightmare. Following directions was impossible. Hell, it took me YEARS to learn to tie my own shoe. I would struggle on the ball field because I didn’t know if I was supposed to bat right-handed or left-handed. Which arm did I throw with? I just didn’t know. They both felt normal. I got yelled at a lot and manhandled a lot by the coaches.
Things got worse, but I had art. Art saved my sanity. I had no friends, was not the popular kid, and certainly didn’t rank up there with the smart kids. I failed more classes and I skated by cheating, if I could, and guessing. Somethings I would get right, but not many.
I had been laughed at for so long in the elementary school years, that just carried over to the middle school years. All I wanted was to make friends, get decent grades, and have a jean jacket. I didn’t get any of those things.
Welp, it didn’t get better. It got bigger because the classes were harder. I discovered that I had a flair for drama, so I did well in my public speaking class. Easily, I could read and comprehend a book. Then there was still art. It was still my happy place, though I knew I didn’t have real talent. Ms. B made me think I had all the potential in the world.
Failed in math (all of them) and my mom is a math teacher. I just couldn’t understand it and I kept getting my numbers mixed up. Martha was probably completely embarrassed, as was I. I simply never fit in socially and academically, I skated by.
Once, I tried band and I couldn’t keep time with the beat. I couldn’t march in step. So, when I got out of step, I would be yelled at mercilessly. It was embarrassing and it did not inspire me to continue.
College and Beyond
Professors have told me I was stupid and to give up. Fellow students, intern bosses, myself…we all said I am too stupid to make the grades and graduate. Believe me, I’m completely aware that academically I suck at a lot of things.
I worked so hard at school. Also, I worked outside of school. I did all the things I knew to do. The information just would not translate into my brain. I ended up graduating with my Bachelor’s in Pre-Veterinarian when Noah was about 2 years old. The success of trying so hard and I wanted that piece of paper. I graduated with honors Magna Cum Laude. Every cord I wore, I earned it.
Then I Went Again
I got talked into trying for my Master’s. The program was set for a year. I powered through that year. My poor family had to stay outside while I worked so hard. I have to work thousand times harder than most people because I just don’t get it. It was a struggle. Yet, I persevered, with a 3.98 GPA. The more people told me I couldn’t, the more I wanted to prove them wrong. Was it hard? Hell yes, it was hard! Was it worth it? I wanna say yes because I know that I did it. Then again, I have a huge student loan that I don’t have a job to pay for.
Your job is supposed to pay your loan. I had a job and then had to quit because my boss was a bit unethical and my son got sick. All this to say that in that one joking moment, all these memories came flooding back. So did the insecurities and the stigma of being stupid. I feel stupid and ill-equipped 99% of the time.
I know these are lies I am feeding into, from the devil. My spirit says that. Yet, when someone says TURN LEFT and I have to stop and look at my hands, that’s a problem. I also understand that Dyslexia and Dyscalculia were not a thing that was diagnosed back in the 70s and 80s. I was actually diagnosed by Murray State when I took my 5th child in to be tested. We had scheduled for my son to get tested and in answering those questions, she felt confident in diagnosing me. I have Dyscalculia.
Now, I know. I’m not stupid. I can learn. Honestly, I just learn differently. One day, this won’t trigger me so badly because now I’m aware. Now, Light is being shown in that darkness. I’m going to be able to talk about this without all the emotion attached and I’m going to file it away. I can do this after I fully process the information.
If you see a kid who seems a bit slower or can’t figure something out, speak words of life and affirmation into them. Giving them the ability to figure it out with edifying words surrounding their brilliance will make a lasting memory on that child.
Never too late…right?