I have stuttered moderately for 30 years, and many speech therapists tried to help me solve the problem. I talk reasonably well and work happily as a college professor. I am now seeing a new speech pathologist and following a new approach: I stutter, I always have, and I likely always will. Instead of worrying about it constantly, carefully mapping out whatever I say in advance, and concentrating so hard on my "techniques" that I can barely remember what I'm saying, I'm just going to let myself stutter. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this change in mindset has already improved my speech markedly. I would appreciate advice, though, for those moments when I am stuck in a bad stutter and just can't get out what I want to say. I would like some quick comment, preferably funny and disarming, that doesn't apologize and won't make my face redden. I've tried saying, "I stutter, just give me a sec and I'll get there." But do you have anything better to recommend?
I like the approach of your speech pathologist—it sounds like a form of mindfulness therapy, in which instead of trying to fight the distressing and repetitive thoughts all of us sometime have to deal with, you accept that they happen, don’t focus on them, and let them pass. Since a new semester is beginning, I think you should deal with this on this first day. When you’re standing in front of the students and introducing yourself, after you describe what the class will consist of and something about your background, add that you want them that know that sometimes you stutter. With a smile, you can say when this happens they should just bear with you for a moment because the words will soon come out. I spoke with Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation (which has many resources for those who stutter), and she said this upfront approach can defuse the discomfort of both the stutterer and listener in all sorts of settings. Remember that many of the young people sitting before you are struggling with their own difficulties, so you will be teaching an important lesson not on your syllabus about accepting the imperfections in all of us.
My husband and I have four nephews by his brother, and they live in another state. Two of them have graduated from high school, and when they did, we sent a nice-sized check. The oldest nephew never acknowledged the gift in any way. Neither did the second. When my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and their sons came to visit us a while ago, I made a comment to the second son about his being able to use the gift to buy things on the trip. He was completely confused and said he never got anything from us. I knew the check had been cashed and I was concerned about it being pilfered. His mother finally admitted that she intercepted the graduation check, cashed it, and kept the money. She didn’t even show him the card! Their third son will be graduating this year, and I have no idea what to do about his gift. We can’t attend the graduation and I’m leery of sending another check. My parents-in-law live in the same town as my brother-in-law and his family, but sending it to their house will cause us some problems with my sister-in-law. What should I do?
Thank you for solving the problem of why almost no relatives get thank you notes for the gifts they send the kids. It turns out larcenous moms are intercepting them. Now all we have to do is lock up the miscreant mothers and the epistolary gratitude will start pouring forth across the nation. But in case your case is unique, you have to make sure the check gets to the boy. So just before you mail it, your husband should contact his brother and tell him that a gift for his third son is coming. Say you want to make sure it actually gets into the hands of the graduate and you’d appreciate hearing that it arrived and went into your nephew’s bank account. Who knows, this may even result in your getting a heartfelt note of thanks.
More Dear Prudence Columns
“The Only One—Or Else: My girlfriend has a fit whenever I mention my late wife. What should I do?”
“Bed Bug: My husband invited a homeless woman to live with us. Should I divorce him?”
“My Mother the Identity Thief: My mom has been running up credit-card debt in my name. What do I do?”
“Confessions of a Favorite Daughter: My parents’ blatant favoritism made me a narcissist and my sister depressed. Is it too late for me to stop it?”
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“My Life as a Sugar Baby: In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman on whether to stay mum about having dated rich men for money.”
“Tongue Oppressor: In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend obnoxiously licks her face.”
“My Creepy Keeper: In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman whose brother-in-law “watches over her” by peeping through her bedroom window.”
“Don’t Look, Ma!: In a live chat, Prudie advises a man whose wife refuses to hide a nude print the next time his mother comes over.”
Check out Dear Prudence's book recommendations in the Slate Store.
TODAY IN SLATE
Forget Oculus Rift
This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again
I’m 25. I Have $250.03.
My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Smash and Grab
Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?