Though I have never taught in a public, private, or charter school I consider myself a teacher. I teach a tiny piece of Biology every time in a retail store or a restaurant asks me, “what’s wrong with you?” My answer varies slightly depending on the age of the child but is usually something to the effect of “my brain and my legs don’t communicate well and, it’s like talking to someone who has a funny accent, they don’t always understand each other so sometimes my links do what I ask and sometimes they don’t.” I sometimes end up gently criticizing the parent for discouraging the child from asking me that question, if they don’t ask how will they ever know?
I have taught people how to bow and curtsy and in the process imparted a little History. I started teaching English As a Second Language almost by accident when a Turkish friend of mine asked me to help him improve his English and I have even though I still don’t think it is nearly as bad as he thinks it is. I have taught children to weave and adults to dye. I helped my math note taker with her Business Law class. I have raised my voice when others would prefer I kept silent. I have spoken up rather than allow myself to be condescended to. I swear when others would whisper and whisper when others might swear. If you see me do either do not assume I am inarticulate. I call it like I see it no matter who you are, school board official, telemarketer, police officer or random neighborhood resident it doesn’t matter. You have been warned, ignorance is not a viable excuse.
You ask me what I take a cure for this condition, I have, the answer is not a simple yes or no. Yes, assuming I could afford any treatment that comes along I would take it but not for the sake of being “normal”. Normal is a societal construct and therefore its meaning is fluid. Any treatments would be divine to lesson the physical stress of my loved ones. I have also been asked if I regret being born the way I am. I am sad that I have never ran to hug any member of my family or been able to jump into the arms of a significant other. It means that I will probably not be the one to teach my children to ride a bike. It will not be the me who teaches them to drive a car or write in cursive..
I will teach them; double Dutch jump rope, at least have to turn the ropes without tangling with them. I will teach them the military phonetic alphabet and the languages I know. If they are inclined to learn cooking I will teach them drop biscuits, twice baked potato casserole and chocolate chip cookies. I will introduce them to Play-Doh and sidewalk chalk and checkers. I will show them how to blow soap bubbles.
You ask me if I regret being born this way. I regret it a little less every day because even though I have no academic degree in education I have been, am and will be a teacher and my disability gives me a unique perspective. It is annoying to knock things over and spill things, I really wish my handwriting was legible all the time and personal hygiene would be a lot easier to manage. That being said if I had the opportunity to go back and be born as an able-bodied child I wouldn’t take it. For all of its frustrations and annoyances I believe I am a better person for my past and my unique experiences.