My recollection of my childhood is rather limited, especially when it comes to my stutter. I don’t have a lot of memories from my pre-preteen years where I can specifically remember times where I stuttered. I don’t know if that has something to do with my brain kind of burying those memories away where I can’t access them or if, in my childhood innocence, I never really noticed anything wrong with my speech, so I didn’t pay particularly close attention to any stuttering incidents. I would like to believe it is the latter rather than the former, but our brains do some pretty crazy things sometimes, so who knows really. That being said, I was well aware that I had a stutter, my speech therapist kind of gave that one away. Unlike my high school years and throughout University I cannot really pinpoint times in my childhood where I felt upset, embarrassed, frustrated, or ashamed of my stutter. That being said, there is one memory, in particular, from my younger years which I do remember vividly, and strangely enough it is a positive one.
Grade 4 or 5, or maybe even 6 (more evidence of the hazy memory of my youth) I was sitting in class getting ready to eat lunch or snack. I turned to the desk neighbour beside me and began to ask/tell him something. I don’t know what word it was that I got stuck on but I certainly remember getting stuck, to a point where I just couldn’t get the word out. My classmate, watching me struggle, stopped me mid-block and told me just to start over and try it again slowly. I remember this as if it were yesterday, it was such a different yet very positive experience for me. This was someone who made it clear to me and acknowledged that I had a stutter and this kind of took some of the pressure off from trying to not stutter. Secondly, he was able to make a positive connection with me by letting me know that it really isn’t a big deal and to just go ahead and try it again, no pressure. Looking back on it now I have a feeling that this classmate had either had some experience with speech issues himself or was close with someone with similar issues. I only say this because as a 10 year old, this seems like an incredibly mature way to deal with the situation, which likely has a lot to do with why I remember it so vividly.
In my later teenage years I remember so many memories as being negative ones, and I will be writing a piece (or pieces) on that at some point, but for now I would like to point out that not all experiences with stuttering have to be negative, some are, in fact, so positive that they remain in your immediate memory well into your 20’s. So thank you to my classmate for being so understanding at such a young age, your actions have not been forgotten, no matter how small of an action it may have seemed to you at the time.