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Star-Telegram.com

Speech Therapy Strangeness

Posted Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011

By Julie Rhodes

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

 

I once knew a girl in college who thought everything was Amazing. That Thai food restaurant is Amazing; the way the sunlight filters through the trees is unbelievably Amazing; the 90s fad of wearing braided belts over a knit top and broomstick skirt — A-to-the-mazing. The enduring image I have of “Jane” is when she used to come into my room at the sorority house wearing nothing but a bra and blue jeans and drape herself across the bed to tell me how Amazing something was that she had just experienced. I might be doing homework or lamely pretending I had a social life, but nothing mattered and everything had to stop because she was beside herself with awe. Stop the presses. Jane has just eaten an Amazing cold piece of pizza, or has found an Amazing new deodorant.

Jane had recently been to Italy. It was Amazing, of course. I assumed all Italians must be as expressive and dramatic as the stereotype because my friend had apparently returned from her trip with a personality souvenir of gushiness in addition to her Amazing handbag. It comforted me in a way, knowing that someone was capable of that level of consistent appreciation for the world around her — when I didn’t want to chase her out with a fire extinguisher. (As Amazing as that would be.)

No, I guess you could say I’ve always been just the teeniest bit cynical, just a smidge sarcastic, not easily impressed by things or people. My dad said of me as a child that I “didn’t suffer fools” which I wore as a badge of honor until I met one of my best friends in the world and realized the greater qualities are really patience and graciousness. This makes mothering even more difficult because the mother’s job description boiled down is “to suffer fools constantly, with no reprieve, day in and day out.” This is why I could never be in the helping industries — nursing, therapists, masseurs. I write and sing for many reasons, and I’m afraid one of them is to escape actual people.

Enter, stage right: Drew’s new speech therapist, Megan. We found her after what was an endless square dance of find-a-therapist after the pediatrician recommended that Drew be evaluated for stuttering.

“We’re going to play with Miss Megan today,” I reminded Drew in the car.

“We going to the car wash?” he asked. He is really asking if we will be driving PAST the car wash, because the quality of every outing must be judged on if he will get the chance to see the car wash in action.

“No, not today,” I say.

The therapy offices are about two minutes from my doorstep. This makes me think thoughts about fate. I wonder if the existence of Glamour Paws, which is even closer, might be a sign that we must get a puppy even if we would rather drink arsenic.

Megan set out an assortment of toys for Drew to play with as she asked him questions. A bag of wind-up toys. A few whistles. A small veterinary set. A box of fake plastic food, plates and forks. She recorded their conversation so she could go back and count up Drew’s “disfluencies.”

Occasionally she would look up from the table and ask me a question – when did I notice his stuttering most? When did he begin babbling as a baby? Does he take any medication? Every time she would ask a question, the tiniest thimbleful of fire would boil in my throat and I realized I might start crying. Why was this so upsetting?

Madeline was playing on the floor next to my feet. Soon the session was over and Megan was promising to e-mail me the results of the evaluation but said that she did recommend weekly therapy for 3-6 months. While I probably should have felt glad that Drew would be in good hands making good progress very soon, I felt very strange.

Is there a part of me that wants Drew to keep stuttering?

If I can’t cure it but someone else can, do I not want them to get the credit?

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For more from Julie, check out wetbehindtheearsblog.com. Also, win magical ponies: Facebook, Twitter.

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