It took me FOREVER to learn how to read. I still remember the shame that comes with looking at a book and not being able to blend those signals into sounds that made even a lick of sense.
I remember one time in my first year of kindergarten, Mrs. Steele asked us what was able to get hotter, wood or metal? The boy who sat next to me, Chris, just knew it had to be wood because wood lights on fire. I objected and said that it had to be metal. I don’t know why I knew that, but I was just so excited as Mrs. Steele announced the answer and I was right.
I also remember another time Mrs. Steele told us that people use to use their hands to measure distance. She said, “why wouldn’t it work for people to measure something like a bridge with their hands?” and I thought so so hard in my little brain and then suddenly it hit me, it’s because people all have different size hands! I shot my hand up right as she told the class “well, kids, its because everyone has different size hands.” I was so dissapointed that I didn’t get to answer, because I actually knew something for once.
Why do I remember these two instances so specifically? Literally like they happened a week ago? It’s probably because those are the only two times in my first year of kindergarten that I ever knew the answer.
My mom use to sit me in the living room and played me Hooked on Phonics “A-E-I-O-U are vowels, and sometimes Y.” I would cry and cry in the living room because I just couldn’t get it. At the end of that year, in a tearful meeting, Mrs. Steele and my parents decided to hold me back from kindergarten. I also vividly remember crying in the corner of my parents bedroom after they told me that next year my friends would move on to the next grade, and I would be held back in the same classroom, with the same teacher.
So, I did learn how to read after all. My dad figured out I was an experiential learner and was unable to understand things that were spoken to me. In order to learn my letters, he would make the shapes of them with his body and I would mimic (thank the Lord for my daddy!), and in order to learn my Bible verses or spelling words I would march around the room. When I finally was able to learn how to read, everything else clicked. Once I learned how I learned, I just adapted.
From that point on, I was always the top of my class even at my prestigious highschool and then into my perfect- GPA- honors- program- scholarship- award- winning- life in college. This largely explains why I am having a hard time post-education figuring out what in the world I am suppose to do with my life. I am good at school. I delight on being on the top. I realize now that I’ve gotten out of the rat-race, and I am constantly feeling the need to go to law school or get my masters, just because everyone else is doing that and I don’t want to be left behind again
I need to pray into this, clearly.
So, largely I thought I had beat that kindergarten shame. It’s something I rarely think about. The tears while listening to Hooked on Phonics in the living room and the confusion while my old friends played on the playground while I stayed with Mrs. Steele as her “teaching assistant” blurred into the background.
So why did I tell you that sob-story? Well, thank you Freud “the child is the father of the man.” Some of this early childhood struggles linger today.
First off, I am really good at teaching people how to read. I use my arms, I am super visual, I make up songs and play games. I never ever shamed my students at Women to the World, even though many were in their forties and didn’t know how to read or write. That one or two years of feeling behind stayed deep enough in my spirit to help me love and teach wonderful women like Nicole in Athens. My biggest passion is having my students learn how to write out their testimonies! That was my greatest work in college, showing other woman how to articulate about their memories and past, and defeat the enemy with the word of their testimonies.
When Judge give me directions, like this weekend at Cracker Barrel when he was telling me where something was on the menu and I stand there confused as anything, just blanking waiting for him just to point at it already, he calls me “Kinder-Katie.” It’s kinda become a running joke, and I can tell you Kinder-Katie has made a brilliant come-back here at work….
When I get any sort of direction audibly, I feel my brain click off and once again I am not able to understand. Today, I had a coworker tell me how to do a simple two sided color copy job fives times before I understood, and actually I never really understood, I just made alot of mistakes first to figure it out.
People will tell me basic tasks to do on the computer over and over again and I will not get it till they just show me and let me practice.
In those moments, where I hear them speaking and instructing but I am not computing at all, I am back to kindergarten. Suddently, I feel stupid and I am back to being a really good liar where I convince my mom a I can read books and convince my coworkers I have an idea what in the world they are telling me to do.
This learning disability still remains, it’s just that after I learned how to read I could do everything myself. I taught myself through most of highschool and all through college.
The worst is when teacher’s would just stand in front of a class and expect tests to be based on lecture with no textbook. I need textbooks to succeed. I had straight A’s until I went to Oxford and had a super-star UGA teacher who based his whole class on lecture notes. Hello random C+ on my perfect GPA.
I decided to do some research and self diagnoses myself, and guess what… this thing I do is actually a real thing. It’s gotta be, right? It’s on wikipedia. So I think I’ve discovered after all these years that I have a minor form of audio processing disorder. Check out the article here
Just another day of Judge making fun of my learning disability hahaha. All the sudden I understand why when people spell out words to me that I am suppose to write down i always mix up c an s. I hate hate when people spell words to me or give me phone numbers. I don’t have the ability to comprehend what they are saying and write them down.
It’s so funny, because I am sure if I had figured this out early I would have been diagnosed by a doctor and treated differently. Nothing is worse than a victim complex or acting in a way which screams, “take pity on me.”
I bet most people have some sort of disability, in one way or the other. Some have disabilities based on emotional trauma, and other because they were born this way or whatever. People are different, just like all people have different size hands.
Either way it’s all a matter of conquering whatever is giving to you and never taking pity on yourself ( I learned this lessons in a beautiful way from my dear dear friend Chrystal Snyder in her beauitiful memoir this week)