Teaching at 10

At 10 years old, I placed in a speech contest. I wrote about family. I wrote about the differences of families. I wrote what I knew from living, while not fully grasping the how of a family creation, but a story about my own. My speech was titled: Two moms and two dads. I spoke to an auditorium full of other children and adults the breakdown of my family unit, how I got to have two sets of parents. While other kids wrote about science or covered their favorite books, I sought to speak about familial differences teach others. Back then, I was made fun of for having a “weird” family dynamic, yet it was my normal. It was this speech, in its simplicity, that forged me to teach. It was this seed, out of difference, that has provided much reflection and clarity as I am now teaching others. I knew then I have wanted to teach others and change the world. Starting with kids the on the playground.
I think we all have circumstances in life that cause pain, make us feel different, unwelcome. We can weave our reactions through projections, like finger-points, name-calling, or wreak turbulence into the world. Like a reactive vulture, it will eat you alive. I think, for me, I never wanted to inflict pain onto others like those monkey bar days. That’s not to say I’ve always been perfect and kind and loving. I was real fucking asshole growing up (hello teenage angst) and still at times drop into my asshole ways. Only they’re much fewer and farther between. It’s the hurt child that coddles pain, takes comfort at strikes. If we realize this, we can turn ourselves around, tuning into the present, and provide a relief to teach our differences.
I knew then I didn’t want sameness. I didn’t want to have what others had. I didn’t need to change the facts. I knew then how differences can teach us. I could, in fact, give voice. I didn’t need those kids to change themselves or stop the circled riddles, but I certainly was called to give speech to understanding. Maybe we can spend less time covering our wounds and start checking in with what pains us most, it can make for great turning points in life. Allow pain to have purpose and rise from its depths. That is my hope.

stephanie birch