For awhile now, Anna has had a bit of a stutter. At first it seemed like no big deal, and all of my parenting books confirmed it for me: lots of kids stutter, and most grow out of it. But then it wasn't going away, and then it started to get noticeably worse, and long story short, a few weeks ago we took her for a speech therapy evaluation.
I like to think I have a bit of an advantage in parenting since I was a teacher. Sure, the first few years are crazy-town, but after that I can deal with schedule, discipline, and that oh-so-delicate balance of tough and love. I've done it many, many times. How could my child be different?
The evaluation itself was good. The therapist saw a bit of what we saw, but didn't seem terribly concerned. We are to watch it and be patient, both with Anna and with the 'disfluency' (as it is now known). Okay, we both said. Phew.
At the end of the evaluation, however, the teacher in me came out. 'Be patient', sure, but what else could I do? Surely there was a workbook out there, or a book I could read, or some sort of work I could do with her at home?
'The best thing you can do,' the therapist said, 'is to slow down yourself.'
'What, you mean my speech?'
'Yes, your speech. And everything else. Just slow down.'
I believe parenting-- like teaching-- is unique in that it places a big, glaring spotlight on your strengths and weaknesses as a human being. I have lots of strengths in my life. Lots!
Slowing down is not one of them.
In the weeks since that appointment, the advice to slow down has been at the forefront of my brain. Slow down, yet our schedule is packed every single day, and hurry up get in the door before the flies get in, and could you please walk a little faster because I've already lost your brother, and oh, I'd love to talk to you about butterflies right now but we have to go. Go. GO!
As is is now August, and summer is... gulp... almost over, I have three to-dos. (To-do lists being one of my strengths, mind you.)
1. Eat pretzel curds at the State Fair
2. Experience a real-life Dirty Dancing Vacation (more on that later)
3. And slow down and enjoy these precious moments. For Anna, and also for me.