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Much as I adore Simon’s role playing with Rainbow Dophie (the stuffed animal he’s been role-playing with for the last few months), there’s one aspect that’s been driving me around the bend: Dolphie has a speech impediment. Like many toddlers his age, Dolphie says his “r”s and “l”s like “w”s. I’m not sure where Simon came up with this, because he himself never did this.

Like my mother before me, I am the .01% of adults on the planet that respond to youthful speech impediments with concern and—if I’m honest—even more irritation. I don’t think Cindy Brady sounded cute: I think she sounded like she needed speech therapy! More than once I have gritted my teeth as a friend told me how much they loved the sound of their child, niece, nephew, or child of a friend whose speech was marked with a pathological mispronunciation.

Apparently, my joyless rigidity extends to imaginary dolphin friends. Because one night, about a month ago, Simon was having Dolphie tell me something or other when I blew:

“Oh my Gosh, Simon, I can’t take it any more. I think Dolphie needs to go for speech therapy.”

Simon was stunned, but for a time my strategy was successful. Simon would have Dolphie say a word (not) adorably wrong, and then fix it. After a while, however, it was clear that Dolphie’s speech therapist was a hack.

“Why did Dolphie just say “hungwy”? Isn’t he in speech therapy?”

“Yes, but this week he’s working on his ‘b’s.”

“Well his ‘b’s are fine. Tell that therapist to focus on the ‘r’s and ‘l’s. It’s driving me crazy!”

Tonight Dolphie sounded as bad as ever. I confronted Simon with his distressing lack of progress and learned the very sad news that Dolphie’s speech therapy school closed. It was a for-profit institution, you see, and it didn’t have enough students to stay open.

Simon shrugged at me, but I could see a gleam in his eye. He thought he had me on this one. He would soon learn not to underestimate his mother.

“It closed? It was a business? Oh, no, no, no. Dolphie is still under three. [I know this because Simon himself has explained that Dolphie plays in a U-3 soccer league.] He should qualify for free speech therapy from the state. We need to fill out some paper-work for him and get him on an IEP.”

For just a moment, I had him. Then he looked at me with narrowed eyes and offered a retort:

“I can’t do that, Mama. I’m just his brother. You have to do it.”

Now, a reasonable person would never consider filling out a fake IEP for a stuffed animal. But I’m pretty sure all of our conversations about Dolphie’s speech impediments offer ample proof that I am not reasonable in this regard. So tomorrow, sometimes between working on a PTA directory, printing out flyers about a PTA art contest, planning a Project Warm home insulation blitz for the Jewish Community of Louisville’s Community Relations Council, figuring out what the heck to do for Simon’s upcoming birthday, and—oh yeah—getting ready for Rosh Hashanah, I’m going to mock up a fake application for state aid for Dolphie.

Why? Because I can’t take it any more. Because I’m “cwazy”. And because I can’t wait to see how Simon spins his way out of this one.


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