Last night I watched one of my favourite Christmas shows, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.
This morning I woke thinking how, as kids in school, we labelled each other. Those labels did a lot of damage. Unlike Rudolph, some of us were never able to rise above the words we were called.
I love words. I love playing with words, putting them together and taking them apart. I love crossword puzzles, word games, and Scrabble. I love reading other people’s words and writing my own.
When I was thirteen years’ old and entering high school, my parents gave me a thesaurus. I never dreamed such a treasure existed. I read it cover to cover, like a novel.
My husband didn’t have a love affair with words. For him, it was much the opposite.
He struggled with words. He couldn’t make the connections between sounding out a word and spelling it. Spelling was a disaster for him. He had to consciously, repeatedly memorize the sequence of letters for each word. Otherwise ‘celery’ came out ‘clegery’, and ‘chimney’ was ‘chibmny’.
He was told he was stupid, and he felt stupid.
I know the English language has weird and wonderful word spellings, but his struggle was beyond that.
By the time my husband reached high school, he’d struck a deal with a friend who was an ace speller. His friend struggled to come up with ideas for writing assignments. My husband always had loads of ideas. So he provided his friends with ideas, and his friend spell checked my husband’s essays. Win win.
My husband is not stupid.
His brain came equipped with a different pathway to understanding words, sounds, and spelling. He had to find his own way, and did, into learning how to spell.
It’s so easy to stick a label on someone, easier than taking the time to consider the whole of the person standing in front of you and finding an understanding.
No one is stupid.
I have twenty years of experience as an artist, but ask me to sculpt something and the result would have you seriously doubting I have any artistic ability at all. I am a disaster at sculpture.
My brain doesn’t see and understand the way a sculptor needs to. What my brain naturally sees and understands is drawing. Give me paper and drawing materials, and I am a wizard.
I’ll say it once more.
No one is stupid.
This life is rich because of the uncountable paths we have for seeing and understanding.
I have a very old dictionary from Great Britain, a school discard dated 1954. It contains a definition for ‘stupid’ I find interesting. The dictionary defines it as ‘wanting in understanding’.
This definition surely describes me trying to sculpt and my husband trying to spell. We want to understand and are unable to.
There are other layers in this definition. We all want and deserve help and understanding from others when we are struggling. And for those who label others then walk away, describing the label-ers as having a ‘wanting of understanding’ works for me.
In this post:
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, animated stop-motion Christmas cartoon, first aired in December 1964, produced by Videocraft International Ltd. (later known as Rankin/Bass Productions). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolph_the_Red-Nosed_Reindeer_(TV_special)