I don’t know how this is possible, but my brother and I once had Big Wheels. My family was ridiculously poor, so they were either a gift or something my parents bought at a flea market. My family didn’t have new toy money.
Being intended for girls, my Big Wheel was pink and purple. Which is something I have always taken exception with but don’t really want to lose this story in that tangent.
Anyway, my brother’s Big Wheel was barely better. It was red and yellow and looked like something Ronald McDonald’s son would ride.
One day I was out riding my Big Wheel while my mother walked behind me keeping a watchful eye on my progress. She was probably worried I’d be kidnapped by one of the prostitutes that worked our neighborhood. Or maybe that I’d get bored and wander into the empty lot next to our house to play with the used needles.
Unfortunately, I have never been a very skilled bicyclist. Like a drunk driver I swerved off the sidewalk and crashed into a telephone pole. I was probably being a bit over dramatic when I then fell off the Big Wheel and onto the ground.
My mother came rushing over to where I lay, helpless and crying. My mouth was bleeding. My mother has never been very good at being around blood. So she was likely fighting off the urge to pass out while trying to lug me and my tricycle home.
I had not been talking for very long when this incident occurred. I was a late bloomer. But when I did finally recover enough from the trauma of the accident to talk; I suddenly had a speech impediment.
My mother took me to the doctor and he found that I had torn the fraenum on the underside of my tongue. I had learned to speak with it connected and now, when I spoke, I couldn’t seem to get a handle on my tongue.
It was flopping around in my mouth like a slug in it’s death throes. As a result any words with “ch, sh, tch” or any combination of those letters was nearly impossible for me to say. I had completely lost my ability to communicate with strangers.
My own family barely understood me. And I had very little patience for repeating myself. If I had to repeat myself more than once I would just get pissed and refuse to talk. This made me even more sullen and angsty than I already had been at 3 years old.
My mother decided to have me enrolled in speech therapy as soon as I started school (which I couldn’t say properly). So in kindergarten, when all the other kids got to have nap time, a very nice lady took me to her office and taught me how to speak English all over again.
Learning English as a second language caused me all kinds of problems fitting in with my peers. They had learned to speak from family, friends, television. I learned proper pronunciation.
It took me years to use a contraction. It wasn’t till I was in high school that I realized I had to consciously say things like “like” and “um” while speaking to seem more human and less robotic.
I had always been a bit of a know it all and a smart ass. And now, sounding like a tiny pompous professor, I must have been insufferable to be around as a child. No wonder I didn’t have any friends.
Actually, I still tend to be a total smart ass and a know it all. But now my friends don’t mind putting up with me.