By John Walsh
Einstein, as well as other scientists, have given us the wonderful insight that time isn’t as fixed as we might have believed. It can, in fact, speed up and slow down, sometimes at perplexingly the most inopportune moments.
One of those eternal moments happened for me at a Subway sandwich shop. There I was, ordering my hero with my seven year-old son Michael, who stutters. When it was Michael’s turn to order, the counterman turned to Michael and asked which of the array of toppings he would like on his salami hero. And that’s when time morphed into its slow, agonizing dance; as the stranger’s impatient stare meets your child’s uneasy approach to making his wishes known. That’s the moment when you, as the parent, knows, there are two roads to travel here. One is a smooth sail out of the situation by responding for him. The other is the thorny trip through the moment, not knowing how long your child might take in responding.
As the counterman’s stare turned to me for relief, the right thing jumped out of my mouth. Instead of answering for Michael, I turned to Michael and asked, “So, Michael, what is it you want on that hero?’ This shifted the responsibility of answering to Michael, empowering him with the knowledge that his Dad knew he could do it. It also sent a message to the counterman that I was going to wait for Michael, and that he best do the same.
Our confidence in our children goes a long way in empowering them to be self-sufficient, regardless of physical limitations.