Yesterday I went to a friend’s place where I met a 10-year-old kid. We started talking and he told me his name and school and which book he is currently reading. It was Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone.
I now experience that when I was talking to him, I was trying not to stammer. I was speaking fast and also gobbling up words in order to sound fluent. Now I think why was I doing that. What was the reason that I was using techniques to hide my stammer in front of a kid? Three reasons come to my mind.
- I wanted not to get hurt: The most probable reason I can think of is the fear of being laughed at. I expect adults to behave like an adult and not laugh when I fumble on a word. However, a kid is innocent. He is natural and sometimes doesn’t have the filter that we adults do. I was trying to speak fluently so that he doesn’t laugh at me and I feel protected. Protected from the pain that I have in my tank from childhood and not yet released.
- I wanted him not to start copying me and become a stammer himself: This might be an excuse that I am giving myself for my desire of speaking fluently. The underlying reason for “considering stammering a curse” is sugar-coated-in the desire for the well-being of a kid. If I really wanted him not to stammer, Probably I would have educated him about it. I could have shown him some demo of stammering which made him aware that such diversity also exists. Asked him if he knows someone who stammers. What does he do when he meets him. That way if he meets some PWS tomorrow or 20 years later, he knows how to act and not get uncomfortable or make the other person uncomfortable.
- I am demanding respect from him and am afraid if he finds out I stammer, He will respect me less: I might have an idea in me that my self-respect is attached to how fluently I speak. In this case, if I speak fluently, People (specifically kids) will respect me as they respect non PWS. Maybe I was scared that what will he think when he finds out that a grown man in his late 20s can’t even speak fluently. That way he will respect me less or not take me seriously.
Maybe the reason is something else. One thing that I did realize from this incident is that I was not treating this kid as my equal. Just because I have lived a few more years than him, somehow I think, he does not deserve the same benefit of the doubt an adult person does. When I meet an adult and he does laugh on stammering, I do not take it personally. I try to educate him by my behavior. I did not give the same respect to this kid. I thought that I am above him and he will not understand the complex stuff like this. I did not treat him as a fellow soul. He was smaller than me in that moment, just because I was born before him. I started to talk down to him (As people do: Am I repeating what I have learned from society). I am reminded of the quote by William Wordsworth.
The child is the father of the man.
I have learned this quote intellectually but have not yet understood it from experience. I am curious to see what happens next when I meet another kid of similar age. Many come to my gym but I try to avoid them.
One more thing that I am realizing is that the situations which I run away from, are the situations that I actually can help me understand myself better. I can make excuses like I am not that person or this is not me but I see that I only avoid them to not repeat something from my past. In the same way, I avoid talking to kids for one of the above-mentioned reasons or maybe something else.