I’ve had laryn…larry…lari…I’ve had trouble talking.
For a teacher this is the single worst thing that can happen – besides running out of red pens or sticky tape.
As a Grade 1 student, there was a period of time when I would count how many times my elderly teacher would request me to “shut up” – so hopefully that paints the image that talking is, for me, akin to breathing.
Being forced to remain mute has been an interesting, frustrating, intriguing experience and I’d like to share a few (possibly over-reaching) thoughts I’ve had.
1. We’ll do anything for children.
I once saw a humorous meam…meem… meme that stated something along the lines of it not mattering how “bad-ass” one’s nature tended to be, if a toddler’s play phone rings, you answer it.
Even without a voice, the thought of not teaching barely crossed my mind until the ridiculousness was pointed out by others. What struck me was how the children in our care become so dear to us, so much like family that we begin to do things for them instinctively. We don’t think of leaving them because we want to care for them and be there to help them grow and learn.
Sometimes we need to remember that it takes a village to raise a child. You are not the centre of the universe and they will grow and develop perfectly fine without you being there for every step of the journey – that goes for parents, too.
2. Context is everything…
The smartest thing I did during the ordeal was to use a notepad to write my thoughts. As the wife and I would discuss the day, I could use the written word to convey events. Watching telly, I was able to discuss characters/events without the need to speak. Mucking around, I could express ridiculous sentiment or response to humorous taunts.
However, to read back over previous notes after the moment had past, the words meant nothing. Nonsensical, illogical, unreachable. Without context for the majority of our conversations, our words may as well be drawn blankly from a dictionary.
3. and not a lot of what we say matters.
Looking back over the notes, they read as undeniably rancid, substance-free, trash.
It’d be an interesting exercise to reflect on what percentage of our utterances are worthwhile, interesting, heartfelt.
We’re funny beings. We can fixate for months on the scorned words of an ex-lover, or agonise for hours over a harsh word from an employment superior, yet probably cannot recall over 99% of our conversations.
This is not to say that everything we say should be important, or heartfelt, but it is worth considering the nature of the words that come out of your mouth, for I believe they subtly help to shape your character, thoughts and being.
4. To lose a voice is frightening.
Trapped inside a mind, unable to connect with others how you desire, not standing a chance of regarding and comprehending the context for previous conversations – to lose a voice is a daunting, frustrating thing.
To not have a voice – frightening. I speak figuratively, of course, but it really made me consider those people (children and adults alike) who feel as though their opinion is lesser than their peer, that they do not belong and have no one to wish they did.
These people must face this dilemma on a daily-basis, and probably more specific than that. We must be mindful that, whilst we always seek to empower the all-important Number One, we are mindful of those who cannot begin to see themselves as even a number.
5. A Minute’s Silence to last forever
I was sent home from work on the morning of the 11th. I returned home at approximately 10:30. Half an hour later marked the 95th Anniversary (give or take for time zone) of the cessation of the Great War – remember, the one that would end them all?
I’m as anti-war as they come. The whole idea that boys were sent to fight other boys in lands they could barely pronounce to die in towns they previously didn’t know existed makes me shiver and curse to this day. Being mute on this day allowed me further reflection time to consider the children, women and men that have had their voices literally taken away forever.
I returned to school today with a whisper.
My children greeted me with the same.