Under the Bar - The Letter

TAGS: motivation', under the bar, powerlifting, Inspiration, dave tate, Elitefts Info Pages

Each morning I check my email before I leave the house for the day. As always there are more e-mails than I really have the time to address. There was one from Jim that caught my attention. The subject line was Under the Bar. Jim went on to let me know that he is aware that I am leaving for vacation in the next couple days but he really needed me to write another Under the Bar article before I left. While these articles are not that hard to write, it does help if I have a clue what to write about. Not only did I not have a clue what to write about, I had to have it down by the end of the day.

Needless to say I spent the next hour or so tossing ideas around and keep coming up blank. I even went so far as to write the title Under the Bar at the top of the page and then sit there for 20 minutes looking blank screen. After several failed attempts at topics I was about to tell Jim it was just not going to happen.

Just then I heard my email tone and decided to check it out. There was an email from my Mother. Now it is not every day that I get an email from home so this caught my attention. I spent the next few minutes reading the email. Finally, I had my next article.

A few weeks ago I sent a box of Under the Bar books home for my family. As any good mother would do, she read the book. It must have struck something with her because of the email I just received.

Here is a quick history for those who have not read the book. I will keep this short and to the point. This topic has also become a huge issue for debate in the media lately so it may have some relevance to many of our readers. The topic deals with children with learning disabilities and the labels that get attached to them. I am very proud to say I was one of those labeled children. While I was in grade school I remember having special classes I had to attend each day. It was hard to forget because I had a big ass picture of a clock taped to my desk reminding me of the time I was to leave the room. It seems that this was a much deeper situation than I was aware of. I can only guess of the conversations that transpired between my parents and the school principle.

Okay enough of the past. I will sum up my point after you read the letter. I have taken the principal's name out of the article as it does not matter who he was or what his name is. What does matter is that there are many of them out there and we all as parents need to be aware of whom they are.

Dear XXXX,

Time has a way of passing, memories fade and we all grow older. However sometimes forgotten memories have a way of coming back to haunt us.

The memory we refer to is of 2 little boys at Wilson Vance grade school. They were but two of the students you chose to label as learning disabled.

To refresh your memory their names were David & Phillip Tate. Now I am sure to you they were just those boys born to the “older parents” (as you chose to refer to us) who at that time had the audacity to challenge your decisions regarding their son’s education.

The details are of little importance now except for the fact that we adamantly disagreed on what children were capable of accomplishing. You chose to put a limit on ability and we stated that desire overpowers all.

One never knows whose life may be affected by our actions or words. Your profession allowed you to mold the futures of the children entrusted to you. Because of your desire to have a “learning disabled” free grade school you had the clocks placed on the desks, labeled the children and moved on to receive your accolades. I’m sure you can relate many examples of the successful children who passed through the doors of your classroom, however I doubt if you ever wondered what happened to the many you had labeled a failure and destined to a life of what you termed, their limited ability!

The enclosed book was written by one of those students. He learned how to endure and with the other positive factors in his life became the man at 37 that some live a lifetime and never achieve.

It seemed only fitting to share this book with you as you were a prominent character in shaping David’s future.

Page 66 “I Remember” vividly describes the thoughts and feelings of the little boy you so arrogantly dismissed as incapable.

Page 68”Coach Shoop” shows how a few well chosen words from a caring teacher erased the label you had placed many years before. The years between was time spent preparing him to understand those words, move on and become the successful young man that he is today. DESIRE DOES PREVAIL.

As for the other little boy, fortunately we moved him into a school where children were not labeled; he also graduated from college, is a wonderful husband and father and is the owner of a successful business.

To put a “finale” on those memories a “Thank you” now seems quite appropriate.

Thank you

When I first read this I felt like these were very strong words to be said more than 30 years after the fact. Then again, if it was my kids or if it were your kids how would you feel?

How would you feel to be told your 7 year old son does not stand a chance in life and had limited abilities? How would you feel to be told your child needed to be removed from the school because they did not like to have those kinds of kids there? How would you feel if you were that kid? Fortunately for me I really did not know everything that was happening until years later. I did however know that I was not treated the same as others and that I was what they called “slow”.

The labels that you develop get passed on from year to year. Each year I grew the more I began to understand that all my friends were in different classes than I was. This went an all the way through high school. Yes, I could write an entire book about the experience I went through and how tracking methods can sometimes be wrong.

This is not about what went wrong but more about what went right. The summer after flunking out of my third semester of college I found myself in my old high school parking lot speaking with an old coach of mine about training. In time the conversation changed to my education. Basically, he gave me a wake up call and reminded me that I was not disabled as everyone has been telling me over the years. He laid it on the line and told me my biggest program was I was lazy. Yes, lazy! While the system may have tracked my in a slow category I was the one who decided to believe it and because of this I became lazy and never took the time to figure out how to work. It was pointed out to me that the same skills I was using with my training were the very same ones needed to excel in whatever I wanted to do.

Did this have an effect on me?

I guess this is up for me to decide. I did finish college with a 3.7 GPA, started my own business and still have much more to offer. I would say being “slow” has been the best thing that ever happened to me.

The point of this article is very simple.

Watch what you say. Your words can make a huge difference. On one side of the spectrum a few simple words labeled a child as slow and disabled, setting up a life of inadequacy.

One the other side, a few simple words of encouragement (harsh words at that) changed a life of inadequacy to prosperity.

Are you words building up or bringing down?

Loading Comments... Loading Comments...