The scowl and furrowed brows warned me that trouble was afoot. The question came in fragments, indicative of her continued struggle with language, "Why I.... why doos... why have... a Mr. Joe at my school?" I answered this question easily enough, that Mr. Joe helped her learn how to talk, how to use her words. Her reply was blunt. "No. Need. Help."
The next question came in quick succession, so quickly that it caught me off-guard. "Why Annie not have a Mr. Joe at her school?" I faltered, stumbled over my words. Everyone is different, I told her. Everyone is good at something but may need help with another thing. You are a good reader and know how to count to 100. You just need a little bit of help with using your words. Annie is a good dancer, but she needs a little bit of help walking up the stairs.
She remained silent in response to my imperfect explanation, and I did not press the issue further. When the time is right, she will bring up the subject again. And I hope that next time I will find the words to tell her that despite our differences, we are all the same. And that differences are okay. Same but different, different but same.