Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Who I Want to be When I Grow Up

I am a speech/language pathologist, serving 0-5 year old children for the 25th year. I love what I do (except the paperwork---shudders).

I love the moment that a child really 'gets it'; the moment that the light bulb comes on and the child understands that "language works". The instant that the child figures out that the give and take/back and forth, the signs, the picture exchanges, the words, *mean something* and they can "get me what I want". That moment is pure magic. That is the reason I get up in the morning. Well, that and the fact that I have two kids in college. (grin)

I remember the moment I realized what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was 9 years old and was reading a Scholastic book biography of Helen Keller's life. I was fascinated. I was intrigued. I couldn't believe the intelligence, courage and tenacity of Helen Keller. She was amazing to me. The story of a young Helen finally learning the meaning of the word "water", as it was finger-spelled into her hand, under the running water of a pump was life-changing for me.

But even more amazing than Helen Keller, was Annie Sullivan. If Helen was stubborn, Annie was more so. If Helen was determined, Annie outdid her. If Helen shone, it was because Annie Sullivan saw the brightness of the child trapped within. I was hooked. I wanted to unlock the potential of children, especially in the area of giving them language. I wanted to be Annie Sullivan.

I read on CNN's website that there is to be a statue of Helen Keller unveiled at the US Capitol's Statuary Hall. That thrills me! I also loved it when Alabama chose to place Helen on the reverse side of their state's quarter. Helen is a heroine. Helen overcame obstacles and achieved far beyond the limits of her disabilities. Helen is worthy to be honored.

But, I cannot help but wonder about Annie Sullivan. The one who worked tirelessly to unlock Helen's potential. The one who read to Helen, through finger spelling, until her own weak eyes nearly gave out. The one who never left Helen, from the time she met her as a child, until her death. Helen would want her dear teacher and friend, Annie, honored and remembered. Annie would not seek such recognition.

I am no Annie Sullivan. But, I can so understand what made her tick. The magical "w-a-t-e-r" moment is addicting and intoxicating and will be what I love to do, until I can't do it any more.


Dolores said...

Oh Terynn...I so agree with your thoughts on Annie. She never gave up on Helen. I really can't imagine her patience and tenacity to just keep on working with Helen, and yet she did..... and look at the results!

Bless you for your work with the children!!!

Ohilda said...

We are like 2 peas in a pod. I love Helen Keller's determination but Annie Sullivan's strength to never give up on the child within still amazes me.

I totally agree with your they "get it" moment! When Kai first pronounced the "K" sound, I had tears rolling down my face and his sweet little face beamed and glowed as if it were radioactive. Oh, how I wish you were his ST.

Thanks for sharing!

PS. Sweet hubby thinks we should "thank" (insert sarcasm) Helen Keller for keeping God out of schools. Go figure...the conservative Republican never sleeps.

Donna said...

I've always been inspired by the story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan. I first read their story when I was just a young girl of about 8 or 9 and it always stuck with me. I vividly remember the part about Helen's discovery of the word "water".

I'm glad there are people like you in the world. My daughters need speech therapy and I don't have the skills to give them what they need. I wish I had time to figure it all out and then teach them but they need to know this NOW. Bless you for what you do!

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