It was the Spring of 1992, my final semester of college. I was sitting in the education building at the University of Delaware, surrounded by soon to be teachers. As my professor of Life Span Development began to share stories of her interactions with Mister Rogers, my interest was peaked. These vivid encounters continued for several minutes before introducing our next assignment. On the surface, interviewing one of your parents about your own childhood seemed like an easy paper to write. Yet, these conversations were the spark that ignited my passion to write the screenplay Express Yourself and this blog.
And Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, I am not eloquent or a man of words, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and have a heavy and awkward tongue, Exodus 4:10.
Since my father was often traveling the country on business trips, I asked my mom if she could help remember my childhood. What I soon discovered was shocking. I completely repressed any memories of second grade out of my mind. Due to my severe speech impediment, I was told in a parent teacher conference that I wouldn’t be able to handle second grade at a normal school. When I wasn’t able to read out loud, consumed by a stammering spirit, passing English and Grammar seemed impossible. I wish I could say that I stayed optimistic during this trying year, but my mother recounted numerous tantrums triggered by my inability to speak like a normal child.
And the Lord said to him, Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the dumb, or the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and will teach you what you shall say, Exodus 4:11-12.
While going through my attic today, I found the paper that I wrote for this class 29 years ago. Quoting a portion of this paper reminds me of the words of Moses listed above. “I was born with a speech impediment. You can call it stuttering or stammering. Either way, every time I opened my mouth I never knew if what I wanted to say would come out right.” This is the pain that Moses and I share. Yet, we each experienced a similar triumph of healing. If you read Moses’ encounters with Pharaoh, he reaches a point that he no longer needs his brother Aaron to speak on his behalf. Little did I know at the time, this one paper became the spark that ignited my passion for writing.
by Jay Mankus