I was suspected of having a learning disability by the time I was in second grade. My assessed struggles weren’t severe enough, though, to land me in Special Education. Still, I tripped and fell many times academically – all the way through college.
We each grow differently, yes? One child loses himself in the storybooks of his choosing, wrapped in a thick blanket with a cat on his lap. Another examines and categorizes nearly every rock, flora and fauna in her backyard. Many plug right into classroom education, completing assignments and taking tests with seemingly no trouble at all. Many don’t.
When I was 11 years old, my first job involved working for my mom. She was a real estate agent, and I walked from house to house delivering her self-promoting fliers, refrigerator magnets, and pencils and pens with “Ask for me by name: Jackie!” emblazoned on the sides. She even created a hand-typed recipe book with cut-and-paste graphics for the winter holidays (it was, essentially, a badass zine) — I delivered those, too, placing them delicately under Welcome mats or hanging them on doorknobs in clear plastic bags. Mom paid me 7 cents per house. I adored walking. It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.
Before moving 500 miles away for a speech-language program in the early 1990’s, I attended a local community college. Those part-time, nontenured instructors possessed more teaching fire and humanly concern than I’d ever seen, and than I would ever see again. I stayed three years and took nearly every class imaginable.
Thinking about my future, did I actually want to teach in the very system in which I’d struggled? Yes. It took a long while to figure that out but yes, I wanted to do just that.
A 5th grade student gave me a magical potion for Valentine’s one year – rather, his drawing of the potion. He excitedly explained how to partake and I took notes: “Drink the potion out of the heart container and you’ll live forever,” he said, “If you die, you’ll come back to life!”
I’ve been doing that all along, little man. When I’d failed as a student, I kept trying. When I became a speech therapist, it took a long while to find my footing in the schools – then to thrive, and to help you to thrive. I drank your potion again and again. Thank you.
17 years in one career is a long time. It’s time to try other things.
I’ve flown this far, for this long – how else can I honor my wings?
With gratitude for reading,