When I was a child, I was very shy. I had friends, but I was much better one on one, than in a group situation. “Jill gets along well with others, but she’s very quiet and shy.” This was a comment written on my report card by my first grade teacher.
I think one reason why I was so quiet was because I had a speech impediment. It wasn’t anything major, but to a little girl trying to fit in, it made me very self-conscious.
My problem was with the letter R. I just couldn’t say it. Rabbit was wabbit. Roll was woll. I remember one day, I was playing outside with my sister and her friends, we were having so much fun. The fun was spoiled when my sister’s friend asked, “Jill, where do we go to get ice cream?” I replied, “At the cor-nor.” They all laughed because I couldn’t say “corner.” I ran home and cried, and wished I could talk normal.
At some point during the first grade, my parents and my teacher decided I needed speech therapy. I recall the giggles from my classmates when the therapist came into the room to take me to my session. “She has to learn to talk,” was whispered by one boy, but loud enough for me to hear.
I don’t remember a lot about the sessions, but I do remember one speech exercise in particular. I put my tongue in the middle of the roof of my mouth and rolled it, to make the rrrrrrrrrr sound over and over. I also read flash cards with words containing the letter R.
In time, I learned to pronounce words with the letter R just like everyone else. The teasing stopped, but my shyness remained.
Did something make you self-conscious as a child?