Make Room For The Stuttering

An-an-an-Andrea and Grace

Posted on: July 1, 2009

For some reason, this memory popped into my head this week. When I was working as a manager at the job I was fired from, one of my responsibiltiies was to hold weekly staff meetings. Because I had two different departments, I held team meetings. One meeting was for the counselors and the other meeting was for the teachers. One of the things I always did was go around and give everyone a chance to talk. I always asked people to name at least one positive thing that happened that week. When I first  started doing that, they all thought it was corny, but it came to be the best part of the meetings.

I always started the meetings off reviewing any management stuff that needed to be shared, and then we would review caseloads and class rosters. Then I would go around the room and call on each person, starting with their positive share. I did this to keep meetings from becoming bitch sessions! I would call on each person by name, their first name. Leslie, Becky, Catherine, etc. Except for one person. I always called on her by her last name, so I would address her by Ms. Last Name. Why? Because her first name was Andrea, and I could not say it.

It always came out “An-an-an-an-an, dru-dru” and I would get frustrated because I could never finish it.  I hated that. (Looking back, it was one of the first moments that I was aware that keeping my stuttering hidden was a major pain. I am sort of ashamed I did this, but glad I am fessing up here.) And she worked there for over a year while I was still there!

So my trick was to call her Ms.”Last Name”. Until I began to obsess over that. I began to constantly worry that maybe she thought I didn’t like her because I never called her by her first name. I called everyone else by their first name, but was always formal with her. Even when referring to her with someone else, it was always Ms. “Last Name”.  I began to worry that she thought I hated her.

Now, come on! I had lots of things to think about. Overseeing two large departments, managing influx of students in and out of classrooms, doing scheduling every week, attending management meetings where I worked hard to maintain my covert-ness. And here I was worrying about whether Andrea thought I liked her or not.

Funny thing, I did. I liked Andrea, a lot. I just wished she had had a different name!  She was one of the best counselors I ever worked with. She was innovative, open to new ideas and met the kids where they were at. And she was honest.

We never talked about it. She never asked why I always called her by her last name. If I ever run into her again, I will tell her this story and the truth about her name.

And what does Grace have to do with this? One of my favorite sayings is, “When a person finds their voice, they take on grace”. Well, I have found my voice, and I am graceful.

This was one of my trickiest covert tricks to pull off. And I pulled it off for a while. At a price, though!  Does anyone have a similiar story?

Copyright © 2009

2 Responses to "An-an-an-Andrea and Grace"

I kind of have a story like that not really but I will tell it. When I was with my sister in the car today, I was telling her something and I couldn’t get out a word, It started with a m, and usually I don’t have problems w/ it, and so I made it look like I didn’t know the word, couldn’t think of it, so I was like what do you call it and then after that I could say fine, is it because I stopped and said something else,idk Bethany Laranjo 🙂

I really dont have a moment exactly like that, but I have several other moments with saying some words and names.

At my former jobs, when anyone called, I would dread when they asked, ‘to whom am I speaking’. Problem is, my name is Annetta and I stutter on that so I usually use a filler, ‘amm’, Annetta. I have had a couple of persons asked if I dont know my own name becasue I seem unsure when I use, ‘amm’.

I am usually so upset by that, that I give them some firm words and believe it or not they all come out fluent. How ironic.

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