See, just as soon as I decide there is nothing to worry about growth wise with Elliot, he develops a stutter. And I don’t mean a simple st-st-stutter. Nope, it’s more of a s-s-s-s-st-st-st-st-st-stutter.
He’ll be 3 in November and his language abilities were already advanced, so that his stuttering may be the result of a forthcoming language explosion (a common reason for stuttering in the 2-5 year age range) is a little terrifying. What kind of advancement is he going to make? A self-taught foreign language? Haiku? Olde English? I’m not doing the mom-thing either, the kid exceeds cognitive milestones with the same rate as he misses the growth ones.
Assuming it’s not any of the more scary reasons (of course there are some) for stuttering– I’m categorizing this as a mild SOS (get it, Sudden Onset Stuttering). Elliot’s SOS is a simple one: I also have thoughts– so could y’all shut up for a second and give me a chance to, 1) start, and then 2) finish a sentence?
In a world a thousand light-years from this one, I attended a classic college dorm room party: 20 underage bodies crammed into one 10ftx10ft room, drinking warm, cheap malt liquor. I came with someone who knew someone, but I was meeting the room’s occupant (and on-duty RA) for the first time that evening.
Here I am, slightly less than sober, having to listen to this drunk guy struggle through a word I identified as “because”.
“Be-be-be-be-be”, he stammered.
“Because”, I shouted, frenetically waving my arm in a circle as if turbine wind speed would hurry him the hell up.
When a 6+ foot drunk Uruguayan, who, as I was to find out shortly, also happens to be an extremely talented poet/author and, quite often, eloquent storyteller, lambastes your presumption with a perfectly timed, ad hoc limerick? Those are the wince-worthy life lessons that become part of your own mentally-held Permanent Record.
I never again, not for the decade we were friends (how could I not befriend him– the kid had talent) rushed his , or any other stutter’s, words.
Which leaves me with poor Mr E., who’s popping neck veins like Ah-nold in Conan (officially this is called a block), just to start a sentence. Which leads me to rearrange my typically impatient face to one of smiling attentiveness, even as my twitchy meter starts to inch into the red-zone. One, because it’s just heartbreaking to listen to your child struggle to communicate. Two, it already takes 15 minutes for them to walk 5 feet from the front door to the car. Not rushing a child who is most-definitely trying to say something and stuttering makes punctuality damn near impossible. Three, I am–by clinical definition, personality and habit– an extraordinarily impatient person. For me to stop what I’m doing and genuinely deliver both undivided attention and patience is as difficult for me as getting the word out is for him. My longterm success with doing this for Elliot, while dealing with Zach’s jealousy over his younger brother getting any extra attention will likely necessitate some sort of martial arts training.
Oh,and the other day when I heard Zach mocking his younger brother? I might have threatened the entirety of Zach’s toy collection if I ever heard it repeated. Which perhaps may seem a but harsh. But sometimes it’s the harshest of lessons that make the longest impression.