My 8-year-old son who stutters has a Korg Volca Beats drum machine that has a “stutter” function. The stutter function makes every beat sound cooler, much like my son’s stuttering has made my world sound cooler, and I find it poetic that the stutter function’s knobs are “time” and “depth,” because I feel that my son’s stutter, over time, has made me deeper.
Sometimes I refer to it as “my stutter,” but sometimes I refer to it as “the stutter.” […] Because to me, stuttering is not bound to my body, that it is a phenomenon that occurs between me and whoever I’m speaking to. I like to think of it like it’s something that we share.
Ellis’s distinction sank in so deeply that I made it my own and misremembered him saying, “our stutter.” Because that’s what it feels like in this house: We have a stutter. It’s something that we share.
* * *
Around Christmastime, my son started stuttering differently and more frequently.
“Why are you so glitchy?” my 5-year-old asked him. “I’m worried about you.”
We might’ve been worried, too, except that we’d been through it before. The previous Christmas, we’d called Dr. Courtney Byrd at the Lang Stuttering Institute here in Austin, Texas, and she assured us that it was perfectly normal for stuttering to change during the holidays and that even good, exciting events can cause changes in stuttering.
So now, when Our Stutter changes, our listening changes.
We listen with more love.
That is not to say that our patience is endless. My son, like many an 8-year-old, talks all the time. Sometimes we wish he would shut up already and let us have some peace!
Which reminds me of another Dr. Byrd story. I once said to her, “I’m just glad it hasn’t stopped him yet.” And she replied, “There is no ‘yet.’ If we keep doing what we’re doing and we do it right, there is no ‘yet.’”
There is no yet. As somebody who is constantly imagining the worst, that stopped me dead in my tracks. You could write a whole book with those words: There is no yet.
* * *
I continue to be grateful for Our Stutter. Our Stutter has opened me up, sent me down new paths of inquiry, introduced me to new ways of thinking, put me in touch with some amazing people, and made me aware of a whole world that I was missing.
A lot is going on in the stuttering world right now. We have a president who stutters!
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation was so impressed with Dr. Byrd’s vision at the institute that they gave a huge amount of money to establish a new center for stuttering education and research. As part of the celebration for this event, I was invited to join a Zoom call full of writers and creative people who stutter. I was blown away by their stories, and how often their stuttering influenced their creative work.
Filed under: stuttering