Saturday, December 22

One Word at a Time, Please

Let me just start by saying I am incredibly grateful that Alexis is ahead of the game on the whole verbal communication thing. I really, truly am because I understand just how frustrating it can be to know that a child wants something, but doesn't have the ability to tell you just exactly what that something is. Years of babysitting a little boy with Downs Syndrome taught me that lesson many times over. We have been blessed with a child that quickly figured out words are good, and fully intends to use as many words as she can in any given day. Any time she uses a new word, I do an excited little happy dance in my head and beam with pride. When she started to use sentences, I felt like I should install a neon sign above her head that said, "This is my daughter and she talks in sentences!" and pointed down to her.

But -oh- how these sentences are a double-edged sword.

Two months ago, if Alexis was thirsty, she would say, "Baba." It only took one time for my tiny little brain to grasp the concept and supply her with a toilet to drink out of (I kid, I kid, I showed her the bowl of water the cats and dogs use in the kitchen--it is filtered water, after all). Now she says, "I want a drink, please." Yeah, so that's really impressive and fantastic and all, but when she says it, it actually sounds more like, "iwannadink paa peez." My brain is old, and it is weak, and it takes me FOREVER to figure out what she is saying.

Yay! for advancing through the verbal communication stages but Boo! for making me think.

Bigger BOO! for making another Mom feel bad. Although, it is partly her own fault for comparing kids.

A little while back Alexis and I were over at a friend's house. There was another toddler there that is just shy of 4 months older than Alexis. That toddler is just now entering the land of words. She uses about 20 words routinely, but is certainly not as verbal as Alexis. I had noticed, but only because someone had asked me to pay attention due to some concern of whether the toddler was behind developmentally. I thought she seemed perhaps a bit behind where she should be, but probably not so far behind it was anything to be especially concerned about. If she were mine, we would be spending a lot of time working on words, but I probably wouldn't start calling in reinforcements just yet. My opinion was based in great part on the fact that the toddler started to repeat things that Alexis was saying. She learned a whole slew of new words such as snow, table, sit, and eat just in a matter of four hours. I think that's a pretty good sign that she just needs someone to focus on teaching her words.

That someone burst into tears and cried, "Alexis talks so much more than my daughter!" right after Alexis declared, "Look at the pretty snow!" (which sounded more like "Wookadapwettysnow" but obviously was intelligible to someone besides me). The mother and toddler left shortly thereafter, because she felt like it was too stressful to be there.

I felt bad about the whole thing for about ten minutes after she left. Then I realized I had nothing to feel bad about. I hadn't said a word to her about anything and I very highly doubt she knew I was even paying attention to her daughter's vocabulary. In fact, I wouldn't have noticed at all if I hadn't been asked to pay attention. What started as a concerned Aunt looking for consolation turned into a Mom's nervous breakdown. That is exactly why it's never a good idea to compare one kid to another. If I had done that, I would have been freaking out when Alexis didn't crawl until nearly 10 months then didn't walk until 13 months. I actually chose to enjoy the "my kid stays put" days, knowing full well that they would come to an end and life would never be the same.

Too bad I didn't do a better job of enjoying the days when I didn't need an interpreter fluent in toddler speak. Good grief my brain hurts these days.

(Bear had a baby. The father is a deadbeat and hasn't once shown his face, but her baby sure is cute.)


  1. Amy didn't walk til she was 15mths (3 weeks ago). Now I am wondering why the hell I wanted her walking. Anyways, How old is Alexis at the moment?

    Amy talks heaps, but no sentences yet and probably only stuff I unserstand. But! She is communicating even if half the time it is pointing and dragging me over to what she wants.

  2. No, it's never a good idea to compare. It's the quickest way for mommy's sanity to vanish. We had kids at all levels of the spectrum. Our first was just as verbal as Alexis (if not more so), but our second didn't say much of anything until his second birthday.

    And then you've got the walking thing, too. And spoon feeding, and crawling, and self-dressing... No, it's never a good thing to compare. But yeah for Alexis! Rachel needs to come out with a toddler translation video.

  3. Anonymous8:29 AM

    Morgan wasn't speaking as much as I thought she should've been. I did compare her to a friend's boy who is 3 months younger than Morgan and I freaked out. So much so that I had her evaluated three weeks ago for speech. Long story short, she's fine. Her gross and fine motor skills are that of a 3 to 3 1/2 year old and the therapists told me "when the brain is concentrating on one set of skills so much, it can 'forget' to focus on another set." Sure. Fine. Okay.

    Like I said....I compared. At 19 months, my friend's son had a vocab of 150 words. But, he couldn't climb onto stuff, he didn't jump, etc.

    Wow....I don't know when to shut up, do I?

  4. I know how you feel. Punkin, too, is very verbal and my nephew who is almost 2 years older still doesn't really talk much. He was recently diagnosed with a language comprehension disorder and has started therapy and is starting to make real strides in his speech. But I always felt guilty talking about Punkin's language skills around my brother and SIL.

  5. While I agree that you shouldn't always be comparing your child to others, sometimes it does give you a swift kick in the ass to do the things that you should be doing. Like, oh, say, giving sign language a shot.

  6. "Yay! for advancing through the verbal communication stages but Boo! for making me think." LOL!! Hysterical! I also burst out laughing at the thing about Bear and the dead-beat dad! Very funny.

    As for comparing kids... It's so hard because we all want to know what is "normal" for each age/stage. But the range of normal is so wide, and people get so caught up in being in the median or early. My goal is to try not to worry unless the Pumpkin is super late with something.

    I agree with what kellie said completely. My niece was extremely verbal early (and still is ahead of most kids her age), but she didn't walk until 14 months or later. She was just working on one set of skills and not the other. My little one does the gross motor skills early, so I am just preparing for her to be late with other things.

    And now I wrote a mini-novel. Way to go, my communication skills!

  7. I actually love the land of toddler talk! I think it is too cute how they get things out of their mouth...that is assuming I can figure out what they are saying. You have a right to be proud of that girl of yours! And, you have no reason to feel badly that the other mom got upset. You did not say anything...she was obviously worried and feeling badly. Since their daughter picked up words from Alexis so quickly....sounds like she just needs someone to talk to her more.

  8. I was told they focus on either talking or if they walk early, they'll talk later or vice versa.

    And, I so agree. Don't ever compare kids.

  9. yeah, we're still going through that. My husband freaks out every time we see our friends' daughter who's 10 months younger than Gavin. She speaks remarkably well and generally better than Gavin. We had Gavin evaluated and they said he's fine. What dear hubby forgets is that Gavin can run and jump and climb and tumble around (and has been able to do so) for quite some time. Our friends' daughter, even though she's almost as tall as Gavin (he's short for his age, she's tall for her age), and spent over a year going to The Little Gym, is not very coordinated, doesn't run very well or fast, has trouble tumbling, and can barely jump or hop. She is just no where near as physically capable as Gavin. But my husband whines about Gavin's speaking skills over and over and over again. So I just remind him that Gavin's verbal skills will catch up and to be glad that he can move around well, has good critical thinking skills (he's a wiz at jigsaw puzzles, has a great memory), he gets along great with other kids (doesn't take toys, shares fairly well), and he behaves himself and listens to adults. The girl on the otherhand, not so much. So I think we've actually got the "upperhand", if there was one.
    I guess it's just hard for parents to NOT compare and it's just natural to want to have your child do as well as others. Hopefully that mom will calm down a little...and she can always do the Early Intervention or Child Find or whatever program is in her county. It's free (her taxes pay for it) and they're very good at their evaluations and suggestions for improving the child's skills.