by: Colleen Berlingieri
My son Geordi has a speech disorder that is annoying, heartbreaking and funny at the same time. My patience wears thin when I listen to him s-l-o-w-l-y work through what he is trying to say. Other times, my heart goes out to him as he struggles to express his feelings. But mostly he simply cracks me up with some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth.
Slips of the Tongue
Often it’s a slip of the tongue that makes his words comical. One day, he’ll be explaining how he put his jeans in the clothes hamster; the next day he’ll be asking to watch the lighting of the Olympic porch on TV.
Talking with Geordi is always interesting, but listening to him as he plays his guitar and sings takes the experience to a whole new level. He often goes into his room, plugs his electric guitar in and fiddles around with the buttons. Then he adjusts his microphone and after a quick sound check, he is ready to begin his set.
First he might start off with a Tom Petty cover:
She’s a good girl,
Loves her llama,
Loves Cheezits & America too…
Next, he may decide to slow it down a bit and try some Beatles:
Don’t make my bed,
Take a bad song and make it better…..
Other times he works on original compositions. His favorite genre for freestylin’ is gangsta rap. Unfortunately for Geordi, he doesn’t have any street cred. We live in the small town of Plymouth, Michigan and despite the fact that it is only 30 minutes outside of Detroit, nothing remotely gansta ever happens here. To overcome this artistic hardship, Geordi uses personal experiences to help him create his hardcore originals. For instance, after a recent visit to the neurologist, where he was told that he couldn’t get a driver’s license due to his seizure disorder, he went home & penned this song that he belts out with gut-wrenching intensity:
She is not the boss of me!
She says I can’t drive a car…..
I am gettin’ a Mustang someday,
Gonna drive far.
Sometimes I peek into Geordi’s room when he is jamming, and I see the look of pure joy on his face. He is having the time of his life with no inhibitions. His funny lyrics, ear splitting guitar riffs & epic front moves all combine to create a scene that consistently makes me smile. It also prompts me to ask myself, ‘What disability?” Because, at those times, all I see is a confident young man who is happy, healthy and comfortable in his own skin.
And when you think about it, isn’t our goal as parents to raise kids who are ok with themselves and their place in the world? Don’t we want them to express themselves in their own unique way and to find joy in that expression? It sounds like a pretty good gig to me.
The FINAL WORD
So to close out this post, I’m pulling a Geordi:
Look out Bruno Mars,
And watch your back Justin T,
There’s a new kid in town and his name is Geordi B
He may not be a household name,
He may not be a star,
But I promise he will make you smile,
Just give him a guitar.
Colleen Berlingieri is a Mom, & Disability Advocate . She lives in Plymouth Michigan with her husband Tony, her two sons, (Geo & Jake), & their rescue dog Andi. Their family owns the FATWHEELS brand that makes adaptive training wheels that enable individuals with balance issues to ride a typical bike. Colleen’s dedication to raising her family & empowering individuals with disabilities is her life’s work and the driving force behind her company & all that she does .