I like to think I’m a hands-on parent. Somewhere between absent and hovering. In an attempt to “participate” in my children’s “upbringing,” I sometimes look over their shoulder to see what they’re watching on their various devices. Shockingly, the 16-year-old and the 14-year-old find this annoying. The 9-year-old, however, STILL LOVES ME, and willingly participates in conversations with me.
So, Leo’s at the table, headphones in, eyes glued to iPod. I come up behind him to see what’s on the screen. A wave of relief washes over me as I see that it is an episode of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and not “Drake and Josh.” (I hate “Drake and Josh” with the fire and heat of a thousand suns.)
I watched a minute or so of DSN over his shoulder, without the benefit of sound. The main characters all looked tired, worn, and annoyed.
I said, loudly enough to be heard over his headphones, “Boy, they sure look tired!” (I can’t BELIEVE the teenagers don’t find my conversation skills thrilling.)
He said, “No, mom, they’re not tired.”
“Oh,” I said. “They sure look annoyed, though!”
Sweet boy that he is, he paused the show, took out his headphones, and excitedly explained the plot line to me.
“They all have aphasia, mom! It’s this problem when you know words and language, but when you try to say them, DIFFERENT words come out. They’re all gonna die unless they can figure out how to communicate!”
“That’s a really cool plot,” I said. What I was thinking, though, was “Did my f*cking NINE-year-old just competently explain aphasia to me?” Then I dug back, with fond memories, to when my parents taught me what aphasia was… waaaaaaay back. Two WHOLE WEEKS back, when they explained the condition to me because one of their close friends had a stroke and suffers from it now. I was all of 43 years old. Isn’t that sweet?
He went back to watching, but then paused the show again and asked, “What causes aphasia?” Yay! Now’s my chance to sound knowledgeable!
“Well, Sweetie, Grandma and Grandpa have a friend with aphasia, and his was caused by a stroke.” There.
“What else causes it?”
“Uh… um… some other illnesses, I’m sure – or maybe a virus or bacteria… or maybe the brain isn’t… WHY DON’T WE JUST LOOK IT UP???” I forced a smile and went to the laptop.
“How do you spell it?” he asked.
“E-P-H…” I started… but then I had to correct myself, as according to the computer (know-it-all) it was spelled with an “A.”
“A-P-H-A-S-I-A.” We were directed to this site, Medical News Today, which had an in-depth explanation and examples. I scrolled down to look for the causes, and he stopped me – “Wait! I’m still reading!”
“Sorry,” I said. Sorry I scrolled too fast while you were READING AND UNDERSTANDING the differences between “Global Aphasia,” “Fluent Aphasia” and “Non-fluent Aphasia.”
Then he gave the all clear to scroll down to the causes of aphasia:
• Traumatic brain injury
• Brain tumor
Okay, that last one wasn’t really listed on the website as a cause. But I could make a damn good argument that it should have been.
About the Author: When Aliza Worthington was little, she wanted to be a ballerina. And the first female catcher for the New York Mets. Neither happened, but she still loves ballet and baseball. And glassblowing. And “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” And her kids. And husband. And friends. And, now, writing. Come along for the ride on the A-Train, which could stand for either “Aliza” or “ADHD” or “Anything She Happens To Feel Like Writing.” You can find Aliza on her blog TheWorthingtonPost. Follow her on twitter at @AlizaWrites.