Make Room For The Stuttering

On Bicycling Up The Mountain

Posted on: April 9, 2009

I have really been in a reflective place. I was trying to find some of the information that I saved from last year when I had my first “big stage” moment at the school where I work. I conducted the first ever induction ceremony of our high school’s chapter of the National Technical Honor Society. It included reading a bunch of stuff, calling the students names, having them do a pledge in a “recite after me” style and leading the candle lighting.

If you are a person who stutters, being on stage and asking kids to “repeat after me” can be daunting. I remember doing a very brave thing. Before we went on, I got the kids together, and asked them to be sure to “not repeat the stutter”. They were great, and it went off OK.

Fortunately, I had someone record the whole ceremony. I wanted to have a model to use for this year, and to figure out where I could make some improvements. I will have twice as many students inducted this year, but the same amount of time for the ceremony.

I still remember the stinging comments my boss made to me the next day. He had suggested that it would have been OK for me to ask someone else to do the speaking, if I knew I was going to butcher the names. In other words, ask someone else to do my job! He said this to me: “it was really courageous of you to climb to the top of the mountain, but you didn’t have to try and ride your bicycle up the side of the mountain the same night”. When I asked him what exactly he meant, that’s when he made the crack about me butchering the names.

So, I watched part of the recording today, as I am preparing for this again this year. Sure enough, I stuttered on just about every kid’s name – but it was just one repitition on the names. By all accounts, nice and easy stuttering, but absolutely noticable. But absolutely not butchering!

I have every intention of doing this again this year. I am the Honor Society Advisor, so its a no-brainer that it will be me doing this. I don’t have all of the kids names yet, but I will do the same as I did last year. I wasn’t sure how to pronounce some of the names, so I wrote them out phonetically so I would be sure to pronounce them right. Not so I wouldn’t stutter, but so I would honor the importance of getting their name right on their big night. It was important to them and their parents.

Maybe this year, I will try riding a unicycle up the moutain. Bring it on!

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2017.