(Editors Note: This is a story about a girl who stutters and her mom, who is very proud of her.)
Summer vacation was about over and back-to-school time was just around the corner. Before a new school year begins, we make a phone call to our daughter’s new teacher, to tell him or her a little about our daughter, including her strong points and weak points, of which she doesn’t have many at all, of course! We also let the teacher know that our daughter happens to stutter. We give the new teacher some helpful information about stuttering and say thank-you and have a great year. We try to keep the conversation short and sweet, because we know teachers are very busy at this time of year, and we don’t want to annoy her before school even starts.
So, our daughter goes off to school. The first week she tells me that her teacher is doing something different this year. Each week, there will be a “Student-Of-The Week”. It will be their special time for the whole week, the class will get to know them and a little bit about their lives. On Friday of that week, they get to bring a VIP (very important person) with them to class. This VIP can be someone in their life who has done or is doing something that is special or makes an impression on them.
My daughter tells me, her mother, that she wants me to be her VIP and tell her class about my tennis playing ability. Well, the thought of speaking in front of her class and teacher is VERY scary. So I said, well that sounds great, but I was secretly hoping that by the times her week came, she would think of someone else to bring to class.
By the time the second week of school is well under way, I get a phone call from Gianna’s teacher. She tells me about the “Student-Of-The-Week” and tells me she wants Gianna to be the first one, because she stutters and the teacher wanted her to be the first one to feel really special. I was OK with that. Her teacher also had some concerns about Gianna being shy and quiet, and that it might have to do with her stuttering.
I told her that as parents of a child who stutters we try not to associate things she may or may not do based on her stuttering. Maybe she is being quiet because it is a new class and she doesn’t know a lot of the children and the children don’t know her. That’s when I came up with a great idea. I would come in briefly and talk about the tennis thing, but her father would be the true VIP. You see, Gianna’s father also stutters, and speaks at parents groups, colleges, etc about stuttering. I ran this past my daughter and she was thrilled.
Friday comes and we put together a few special things to help the kids understand what it feels like when someone gets stuck on words and we have Friends tee shirts for all the children and the teacher. At the end of the day, her classmates seem to understand and are curious about the whole subject of stuttering and very open about how to make Gianna feel comfortable. They ask questions, and at the end of the day, the teacher asks, “So class, what have we learned about stuttering?” One little girl says, “That is is OK to stutter”.
I conclude by saying that people who stutter just want you to know that they stutter. It is something that they do, and sometimes it is hard. We had everyone put his or her Friends tee shirts on and we took a picture. WHAT A DAY! I really felt something special happened that afternoon. Something special for my daughter, Gianna.
This was a true story, from a mother whose daughter just happens to stutter.