Spreading the News—by Jamie Levine
In the past week or so, my daughter has finished up kindergarten and become a first grader. She even knows details about her new teacher, and already has formulated personal opinions about this woman. Also, thanks to Facebook and the hyper-involved mothers of my Long Island town (admittedly in this case, I must include myself), Jayda knows the names of many of the kids who are in her first grade class. Most significantly, she has mourned the loss of friends who will no longer be in her classroom (selectively forgetting that she attends a small school and that she will still see her former classmates at recess, after school, and at special events and play dates): “But Mommy…she won’t be in my class and I won’t be with her every minute anymore! It won’t be the same! We can’t be BFFs!” Little girls in suburbia can be so darn dramatic. Or maybe it’s just my Jayda? Regardless, my kid certainly knows how to communicate her thoughts and feelings all too well.
However, unlike my daughter, there are countless other children who don’t mindlessly rant about their teachers or friends, and who even, in fact, have communication disorders. One of the most amazing things about being a speech-language pathologist is that I can help so many different kinds of kids. And practically speaking, I can take my new career in so many different directions. Initially, I thought I’d wind up working in a public school because the concept of having my work schedule match Jayda’s school schedule seemed ideal, but after student teaching at a public elementary school for one of my externships, I decided being a public school SLP was not my dream job. My dream job still is working with children, and I do still want to have a schedule similar to Jayda’s, but that doesn’t have to mean working in a public school. It also doesn’t have to mean working with school-age children. But maybe I will in the future. I have a lot of options. However, I have to start somewhere…and I have to start my new career soon. So, I’m starting in September with a great opportunity that was recently offered to me: A full-time position which will enable me to fulfill my clinical fellowship in the shortest amount of time possible so that I can progress to the next stage of my career in nine months. It’s an opportunity that pays well, provides me with medical benefits, and offers me a diverse and interesting caseload. It’s a job I never pictured myself doing—but I think it’s going to be a rewarding one and I know I’m going to learn and grow a lot: I’ll be providing early intervention speech therapy services in childrens’ homes, working with infants and toddlers, ages 0-3.
I just spent a whirlwind weekend with my loquacious daughter—who verbally manipulated her grandpa into putting down his bagel mid-bite to play board games her, made up an intricate story to explain to me why she had cookie crumbs on her face when she wasn’t supposed to open up a new bag of cookies, engaged a woman at the gym whom she barely knew in a long conversation about her outfit, chatted in the back of my car with her friend about everything from pop stars to their favorite ice cream flavors—and much more. But best of all, she told me dozens of times that she loves me. Shouldn’t every mother get the chance to hear her child say the words she wants to hear? What could be better than intervening early to help make that happen? I’m hoping September is going to be the start of something very good—both for me, and the families with whom I’ll be working.