Let's face it. Being a kid can be a challenge.
When Dan recently wrote about how he suffered from a speech impediment as a child, it reminded me of my own not exactly similar story - if you know what I mean.
You see, reading came easy for me when I was young.
There's no real specific reason for it, such as having been read to extensively by my parents or anything like that, it was just something that made sense to me at an early age. I've always loved puzzles and to me reading was just another puzzle - put these letters together in this order and they'll make this word. Easy! That's just how my brain was wired.
This leg up on reading did have its advantages of course. One benefit was that my primary school years seemed relatively easy for me. Because my comprehension skills were at the top of my class, I could pretty much coast while the rest of the students were working through what I had finished earlier. Of course this also afforded me the opportunity I needed to become "talkative" and "disruptive" and many other unparentfriendly behaviors.
Sometime in the 3rd grade we were asked to come prepared to class the following week with a short memorized poem of between 4 and 8 lines. Most kids chose nursery rhyme types of pieces but I thought the quirky 18-line Lobster Quadrille from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland made for a much more interesting piece to recite - even though I had no idea what the word "askance" meant. When I was finished my teacher just looked at me and said, "Uh - that was very nice Jeff."
I'm pretty sure she checked my backpack for roach clips during the next recess.
As a result of my "advanced" reading and stellar enunciation skills, I was soon notified that I would be receiving the 3rd grade reading award at the school's next awards ceremony. Needless to say I was pretty proud of myself, especially since I was asked to recite the same poem that landed me the honor in the first place.
What I wasn't prepared for however, was that just a few days before the night of the ceremony, I was scheduled to receive a mouth-full of orthodontics to correct the severe underbite I was born with that made me look like some kind of human-Shih Tzu crossbreed.
And so the night of the big event, I was called to the stage as the winner of the 3rd grade reading award to recite my poem. It went something like this...
"Will you walk a little fathter?" thaid a whiting to a thnail,
There'th a porpith clothe behind uth and he'th treading on my tail. etc...
After the laughter died down I thlinked off to my theat and thaat down with my parenths, who - because were parents - were beaming with pride. At least that's how I chose to interpret the hugs they gave me at the time. Now that I think about it though, I suppose they could have been hugs of pity. Uh, mom?
The ironic thing is, it was this first experience of being "on stage" and all the attention I received that planted the seed for me to pursue a career as a performer later on in life.
Being laughed at for speaking with a lisp? Bah! I was on stage, and it was the best feeling in the world!