Called Out

There have even several posts lately about other children asking yours why they speak funny, why they have an accent, or-basically- why they speak the way that they do. The child is left humiliated and the parent bamboozled as to why anyone would ask such a thing.

This period is usually after the child is no longer nonverbal, but just before completely clear articulation. It's when, personally, I find other kids to be the harshest critics and they lack what we know as a 'filter.'

For instance, as adults, we know not to ask the guy in the wheelchair, why he's in a wheelchair. As children, we see a guy in a wheelchair and want to know why he needs it, how he uses it, and often proceed to ask him aloud, "Hey dude, why are you in that and why can't you walk?"

Kids say the darndest things, right?

Anyways, as far as your own children who may encounter this awkward situation, it's probably helpful for you to understand what it's like to be asked, "Why do you speak funny?"

Now the only way for you to grasp this and the easiest way for me to describe it is to share my personal experience. I can pinpoint the exact anxiety and even the general moment in which I knew my "funny" accent would be mentioned by my peers.

I took a snippet from a piece I've been working on and copied it below; I couldn't write it any better if I tried. It is truly enlightening to those who may not have a funny accent nor recall the insecurities of being a child:

Tall enough for our elbows to rest on top of our desks, but just short enough to prevent our
dangling legs from touching the floor below us.

I sat at a wooden desk that would be mine for a whole year, in a colorful room with twenty-eight
 other children that I would call my classmates.

Sitting awkwardly and impatiently, mentally processing what school has in store for me.

New white shoes, a new blue dress, and my curled blonde hair with my bangs loosely pulled back.

There was an adult woman who towered above us standing in front of the classroom.
The Giant of the classroom, otherwise known as our teacher, Mrs. Henson.

Smiling overwhelmingly, she clapped her hands together and welcomed us to the First Grade.

“Hello! My name is Mrs. Henson…” she excitedly introduced herself.

Her enthusiasm was that of a game-show host: vibrant, overwhelming and enthusiastic.
Honestly, it shocked the class with bewildered stares across the student body.

Were we supposed to be this excited about First Grade too?

With vivacious energy, she quickly instructed and led us into Attendance Call.

Attendance Call was rather simple; the teacher reads her pupils’ names from a printed sheet of paper and students raise their hand and say, “Here.” The simplicity of attendance though was misleading.
It seemed so uncomplicated, but in reality it was quickly tainted with unnecessary anxiety.

Attendance is the first time one ever spoke in front of their new class. It is the first time one ever participates in their new class. Little did I know that this would be the first attendance call of hundreds to come. Little did I know just how pivotal this minuscule thing, attendance, would be in my academic

Little did I know just how much I would abhor something so simple.

I did not know any of this. Yet, regardless of my ignorance, my heart began pounding loudly out of
simple fear of saying, “Here” in my new classroom.

The teacher called out every students name, one by one. Each student nonchalantly raised their hand
and said, “Here,” without any sign of fear nor hesitation.

My name was towards the bottom of the list. I waited through twenty-seven names to be announced,
while my heart loudly pounded and echoed in my ears.

It was deafening. It took all the energy and focus I had to listen over the loud thumping of my heart.

The pounding sent vibrations through my chest, my head, and my ears. I wanted to silence the pounding; tell my heart to be quiet so I could hear my name announced.

The further the teacher went down the list, the louder my heart pounded.
I was desperately begging my heart to stop pounding so loud and wondering if others felt my
same anxiety.

Why is everyone calm?

Finally in the waiting between my obnoxious, pounding heart and the curiosity of others’ nervousness, I heard my name.

“Alyson Taylor,” the teacher announced.

My heart and brain froze; there was a moment of silence halting my anxiety.

What do I say again?

“Here!” I shockingly exclaimed; surprising myself that I knew what to say.

Almost immediately, there were chuckles in the class, I must have done something wrong. Maybe I was too slow in my response, too fast, or maybe I was dumb because I forgot to raise my hand.

Other’s eyes were piercing me, I could feel their stares behind and in front of me.

One loud voice in the back of the room echoed with laughter, “She has a funny accent!”

I turned to see him, to see the boy who had no problem loudly commenting in class.
He was a tall, blonde-headed boy with glasses wearing a black t-shirt. His feet could actually touch the floor while he was seated at his desk. His index finger pointed right at me as his chuckles contagiously spread across the room among my so-called classmates.

I quickly turned back around to face my desk and tilt my head forward with disappointment and embarrassment. Staring at the wooden desk was safe; a wooden desk cannot laugh at me, it cannot point at me, and it does not care about how I speak.