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.