• My ten year-old daughter has had a male friend, whom she has called her “boyfriend”, since she was seven. Even though she’s only ten, the term “boyfriend” still doesn’t sit well with me. I’m her father- need I say more?! Simon was always a very kind and shy boy who had severe stuttering problems. He attended regular speech therapy sessions, but his progress was slow. My daughter, on the other hand, was more outgoing and would stand up for him when others would laugh or ridicule him at school.

    During one of their playdates at our house, about six months ago, my daughter broke out the Karaoke machine and wanted to show off her singing skills. She was singing some familiar tunes from her favorite soundtrack from the Lion King. They were playing nicely in their room and suddenly I heard a heavy drum beat- they had moved on to some of the rap songs I’d loaded onto the machine to indulge that teenage twinge in me. I wandered in to see what they were up to. It turned out that Simon had found a song from one of my hidden collections of karaoke hits, “Lose Yourself,” by Eminem. He knew all of the words and sounded great! No stuttering and no pauses. My daughter and I looked on in astonishment and once he was done, my daughter yelled out, “You go Rhymin’ Simon,” as we gave him an enthusiastic round of applause.

    Simon was hooked and from that day on he walked around speaking in rhymes. Without stuttering! I don’t know what it was that clicked for him but somehow when he rhymed, his speech just flowed. He practiced so much that he mastered the art of freestyle rap. The following month he entered a talent show at the school and, wouldn’t you know it, “Rhymin’ Simon” (his stage name) won after performing a rap song. He was talented and quickly became popular. Soon everyone had forgotten about his stuttering past and how he had been ridiculed and ostracized. He has maintained his close relationship with my daughter, who knows his vulnerable and shy side, which is very different than his new “Rhymin’ Simon” persona. We learned that each person has so much more inside than we can imagine, and that the path from A to B is different for many of us. And maybe most importantly, the value of true friendship, irregardless of popularity.