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When My Son’s Stutter Became a Blessing

When My Son’s Stutter Became a Blessing

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“Wow, one more thing on my plate. One more thing to think about and to schedule into a really crowded day.” These are some of my thoughts as I walk the busy streets of Geulah, a neighborhood in Jerusalem, on my way to a speech therapist with my son. I glance over at him. I adore him so much. “G‑d willing, this will be good, and this therapist will be a good shaliach [messenger],” I think. We are alone, just the two of us, walking. How sweet!

For three months my son, who has a slight stutter, and I have met weekly with a speech therapist, who gives us techniques and tools to help him articulate more fluently. In addition to the weekly meetings, our One more thing on my plate!speech therapist gives us homework assignments, and from the very first meeting told me, “Now you have a new job. I’m training you as a speech clinician.” Every day, and preferably twice a day, I have to converse for five to ten minutes with my son. And, of course, we are to try to use the tools that will help him speak more clearly and slowly.

Five to ten minutes of stopping what I am doing and refocusing. Five to ten minutes a day of sitting or walking and listening, really listening. Five to ten minutes a day of connecting. How sweet, how nice! Is the stutter a problem, or is it a gift?

Another child, so full of energy and life. He bounces off the walls, hanging, swinging—boom, bang, crash! Every day. I’m exhausted just looking at him. He is a charmer, and I love him. But then I notice I am just a bit too excited for the moment when he is finally sound asleep and our home is suddenly so peaceful. I seek advice, and it turns out that this child is very sensory. I am given a homework assignment for this child: Every 15 to 20 minutes, I should try to stop whatever it is that I am doing and hug him, swing him around, jump him up and down, and give him gum to chew. Can I do it? Stop what I am doing and just hug or twirl my son?

It’s 7:15 AM, and I am in the midst of making lunches and getting everyone dressed. I turn around and see my little ball of energy. I put the sandwich down and grab his hands, and we start to dance and laugh. I grab the baby, and another child joins in. We’re jumping and dancing, and I say to myself, “How sweet!”

This sensory thing, this challenge—without it, would I ever just stop and hug, or twirl and dance? How sweet, how nice! What a gift from G‑d!

Now, it’s not that I don’t sit and have conversations with my children. It’s not that I don’t listen to them or spend quality time with them. And it’s not that I don’t touch and hug and play with them. Really, I do. But it could be that a day is so busy, that life gets so hectic, that hours go by and . . . I don’t. So, G‑d sent me a little gift, G‑d gave me a giftwrapped up and packaged into a parcel called “therapy” or “necessity.”

There is a special mitzvah to say at least 100 blessings a day.1 This mitzvah is based on the verse in the Torah, “And now, Israel, what (mah) does the L‑rd your G‑d ask of you? But to fear the L‑rd your G‑d, to walk in His ways and to love Him, and to serve the L‑rd your G‑d with all your heart and with all your soul.”2

The Talmud explains that the word “what” (mah) can be read as me’ah, meaning 100.

Why is there an obligation to recite 100 blessings, when do we say them, and how would they help us come to love G‑d?

The word yehudi (Jew) is derived from the word l’hodot, “to appreciate” or “to give thanks.” Throughout the day, there are a million opportunities to appreciate and give thanks. We use the bathroom, and there is a blessing afterwards in praise of the One who created our bodies with such awesome wisdom. Before and after eating or drinking, there is a blessing. We recite blessings in our daily prayers asking for wisdom, redemption, health, livelihood and peace—to name a few. We bless and we praise a hundred times throughout the day.

And what do these blessings do? They connect us. We are required to bless because G‑d wants to us to converse with Him! He’s listening, and He wants us to talk. He wants us to stop every so often throughout our busy day and hug Him, twirl with Him, dance with Him. How sweet! What a gift!

Footnotes
1.
Talmud, Menachot 43b.
Originally from northern California and a Stanford University graduate, Elana Mizrahi now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and children. She is a doula, massage therapist, writer, and author of Dancing Through Life, a book for Jewish women. She also teaches Jewish marriage classes for brides.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Yehudis Monsey April 11, 2016

What a pleasant perspective on life! Reply

Racheli Miami March 4, 2016

How Beautiful, How Powerful... BS"D

Elana, your words pierced my heart.
How beautifully said. Such a powerful and important lesson that you have learned through your children. Your story touched me very deeply. I think as a mothers - we sometimes get lost in the everyday hustle, and sometimes forget to STOP - PAUSE - and just be with our children. Like the "shtus-dekedusha" - just to be BE with them on the closes, plainest and most simple, basic and grounded way. The way neshamos are supposed to connect. I love that you tied that in to our relationship with Hashem. That is just a gorgeous thought! PROFOUND!

Perfect for a shabbos dvar Torah!
Thank you for sharing your story :))) Reply

Anonymous March 1, 2016

A blessing What a beautiful way of looking at blessings.
My son has no speech , but is so expressive and has a very sunny disposition despite of his condition. I have to be the opposite of who I am (an introvert), eliciting conversations, play, finding brightly colored visuals, tactile toys for his sensory integration, but this has been a blessing. Those years have paid off, and it turns out that his reading comprehension and general knowledge is beyond our expectation. He remembered EVERY thing !
We only discovered this after getting an ipad for him recently.
I realise now it is mutual - training for growth. Perhaps more me than him sometimes : ) Reply

Ana Maria Zumaran Peru March 1, 2016

Dear Elana, nothing better like you said than conversing with our lovely father. Thanks, beutiful message. Ana Reply

Anne Hicksville February 28, 2016

Thanks Your sons sound exactly like mine, one with a stuttering problem and one who is sensory and high-maintenance. Thank you so much for this beautiful article reminding me how this can be a blessing! Reply

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