From March 15, 2018
When I was younger, I almost got held back in first grade. This was mostly due to my unsatisfactory progress, but also because my teacher thought that my left-handedness was the mark of of the devil. <– There may be some truth to this.
But luckily for me, I had my mom on my side.
She petitioned the school board to bring in an educational psychologist to give me a battery of tests, to determine my IQ and other performance metrics. The guy they brought in had an academic’s beard in typical Freudian fashion and was sporting a brown tweed blazer. He looked fly.
He tested me for about two hours each day over the course of two weeks. I remember the tests being fun puzzles that were way more interesting than normal class. Looking back, they were very similar to the kind of games you play on Lumosity.
After it was all said and done, it was determined that I wasn’t slow, but that I had hearing problems. And if you can’t hear well, it’s hard to learn in the typical classroom setting.
But they still wanted to hold me back because I had essentially fallen behind a year. This wouldn’t do for my mother, so a compromise was reached; I was to have little tiny straws, called ear tubes, surgically implanted into my ear canals to resolve my hearing issues, and for an hour each day I would be taken out of my regular classroom, and put into a “special” classroom to help catch me up.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I had been labeled LD. Learning Disabled. And where, eventually I caught up and remained an honors student for the remainder of my K-12 career, that label still follows me to this day.
Let me give you some examples:
In 6th grade science class, my teacher, Mrs. Dooley, asked, “What do antibiotics fight against?”
I promptly raised my hand because I knew the answer, but she didn’t call on me. So, I abruptly yelled, “Vacterial infections!”
To which she replied, “Come again?”
“Vacterial infections?” I said, a bit softer and with less confidence. “You know, from vacteria?”
“It’s bacteria,” she said. “Buh…buh…Bacteria……….with a B.”
In the 10th grade, I asked a girl in French class if she would be my Valentimes. To which she replied, “No, I will not be your Valentine.”
In the 11th grade, I was over at a friend’s house playing Super Smash Brothers on the GameCube. I was hungry and I exclaimed, “I’m hungry. I need some substanance.”
He looked at me incredulously. “What did you just say!?”
“I said, I need some substanance. I need some substance for my stomach.”
“It’s sus–te–nance. Sustenance, you dunce!”
Fast-forward seven years, I’m a DNA Scientist at a biotechnology lab. I’m talking to my co-worker and bragging about my upcoming trip to Ireland with my sister. “Yeah, it’s cool that she invited me along so now I don’t have to live bi-curiously through her.”
“Excuse me,” replied my co-worker.
“Well, it’s just that I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland, and I wouldn’t be able to go if she didn’t pay for my plane ticket. So now I don’t have to live bi-curiously through her.”
“The word is vicariously. How can you live bi-curiously through someone? That doesn’t even make sense. Don’t you read? Haven’t you ever seen it spelled out before?”
The thing is, I hadn’t, and I had been saying these words wrong for years before anyone ever corrected me. Not only that, I was saying them proudly and with confidence. I guess, the truth is, as much as I’d like to think I’ve outgrown it, deep down, I’m still a little LD kid. It makes me wonder what other things I’ve been doing wrong where nobody has stopped to correct me.
So, if you hear a friend routinely mispronouncing a word, don’t blow it off as you mishearing them. Say something! Save them from embarrassment! It’s a courtesy thing like telling somebody their fly is down, or that they have food on their face. It’s better that they hear it from you than get caught in an awkward situation.
Thanks for reading, and if you liked it let me know! Or better yet, tell me about your awkward, embarrassing, LD moments in the comments below or through my links. Bye bye, now.