When Eleanor was born, I wasn’t one to study the milestones, but there were a few that were hard to avoid: crawling, walking, teething and… talking. My cliché approach to all of these was that there weren’t many college freshmen unable to crawl, walk, talk and without teeth. (I know, completely glib as so much of development is the process and not necessarily the progress, but it avoided the angst-y discussion.) Luckily Eleanor hit the first three right in stride but talking… was a slow boil.
Oh, there were sounds.
And there was babbling:
And there was the requisite pointing:
The pediatrician would ask how many words she had and I’d mumble about how each of her grunts actually meant something wildly specific and obvious.
By her 2nd birthday, I was officially going into her doctor’s appointment armed with words she had uttered at some point in the past 6 months. The pediatrician cocked her head, made a note in her chart, and informed me about early intervention in New York City.
It’s not that I was adverse to getting the support potentially needed, but it simply didn’t seem like Eleanor had any issues communicating or making her needs met.
I even emailed a speech/ language colleague and asked what her opinion was and she reassured me that the first thing anyone will ask is have there been any life changes… we’d moved to a new apartment, spent the summer away from home, and had a new baby. End of any percolating worries.
When Eleanor was 2 1/2, we were giving babysitters a translation guide (these are just some of my favorites):
way mint= wait a minute
Now that she’s 3 1/2, it seems laughable that she was ever non-verbal as she just recently shared with her grandparents that the difference between a snake and a lizard is that a snake ‘lithers.’ Who knew.
Oliver is fast approaching his verbal milestone, but he’s not quite there yet. My summer at home with him has reminded me of the wonder that is toddler language acquisition. Currently he understands everything but relies on a handful of words, a few sounds and MANY nonverbal signals to make his needs met. Hard to say whether he’s learning language, or I’M learning his charades.
If I’m being honest, he can say like 4 things (bus, fish, cheese, daddy), but I’d definitely tell the pediatrician that he has dozens (and dozens) of words.
I guess the point of this post is that communication and language are wildly different things in our house these days. Despite his trajectory (or lack thereof) I suspect that Oliver will make it to the speaking finish line at some point before he turns 3. It’s really hard not to compare and contrast: with other children, ‘standards’ of development, and pediatric best practice of covering all their bases, it’s a real challenge to let our kids grow at their own pace.
Obviously, I’d like to think that I would solicit support if the time ever comes, but I also try to keep any helicopter parenting tendencies at bay as well. Today, I’m pretty sure Oliver said “pig” so I’ve added it to my list and am ready for his 2 year appointment. Wish us luck with other milestones… we’re only 3 years in!
p.s. This is a picture of Eleanor during her “quiet time”… I think she was putting Mark to bed (after giving him a quick sponge bath apparently) and then when he ‘woke up’, they were going to school. She narrated the entire time; Mark didn’t get a word in edgewise.