At Pax’s two-year appointment, the doctor wanted me to call a speech therapist. Because Pax wasn’t really talking. Which surprised me. I forgot, actually, how much Raines had to say even at 18 months. Hunh.
But here’s the thing about Pax: he understands everything.
And Pax communicates his needs quite clearly. It’s not uncommon for him to suddenly grab my face – with both hands – and point it in the direction he wants. Often, I don’t even know how I ended up on the floor with my face in arm’s reach, but that’s kinda his modus operendi. And the kid knows what’s going on – he’ll follow even my most frantic morning directions. ”Pax! Find your shoe! It’s in the thingy by the door!!!” Out of the corner of my eye, I’ll see his chubby little thighs wander over to the door and start picking up random objects, trying to correctly identify “thingy”.
This, BTW, is a more successful searching technique than the kind my husband performs. Just sayin.
Anyway, it never occurred to me that his speech might actually be a problem. Until the doctor pointed out that Pax should not only be saying many more words, but he should actually be stringing them together. Speaking in sentences.
Yeah….no. Not even close. He’s a one-word kinda guy.
But still, I was hesitant. Because…I don’t actually think there’s a problem. And while I keep hearing, “it can’t hurt to get help!!” I’m not sure that’s actually true. Right now, Pax has no idea that anyone is worried about his speech. He’s just progressing at his own, unhurried pace. So I wonder…if we get some “professional” in, they’re going to….what? Do what, exactly? Be all like, “Pax! Say ‘more, PLEASE.’ MORE PLEASE” over and over and bribe him with something until he catches on that YES. Talking is a thing.
I don’t want it to be a thing.
My resolve, however, was tested over the holidays. I was on Facebook, and saw an update from Lane. Lane’s little one Vesper is almost exactly the same age as Pax.
Vesper: ‘There’s a eagle out there!’ Dave: ‘Good imagination! What’s the eagle doing?’ Vesper: ‘Flying by a mountain!’ Dave: ‘Oh really? Cool! Looks like you are actually picturing it in your mind!’ ::Dave turns around looks out the window:: ‘Oh wait, there is a real eagle out here. Actually flying by a mountain.’
Ok – this is funny on so many levels. But I’m not gonna lie: my mouth may have dropped open reading that opening line.
Stunned, I go upstairs to share Vesper’s brilliancy with Mike, and witness the following conversation between Pax and Mike’s Mom (Gram), who is sitting on the floor, putting together some sort of racetrack:
Pax [pointing to one of the cars]: ”Wed.” (red)
Gram: That’s right, Pax! That car is red!
Pax [points to the car again]: ”Wed.”
Gram: ”That’s right! A red car!”
Gram: ”Yup! That car is still red.”
Me: OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING NOOOOOOOOO
Ok. So maybe we started to worry a little bit. Neither of us (Mike or I) really acknowledged our worry out loud, but I noticed a slight change in our behavior. Previously, for example, if Mike was eating, say, a cracker or something and Pax would walk up and point, “DAT”…we’d always clarify, “Cracker, please?” That’s what we’ve always done. And typically Pax would affirm our statement with a “YUP,” said in his deep little voice. And that that was it. Before, that was enough. Sometimes Pax would even whip out a “pee?” (please) and we would be all “BONUS! OUR CHILD HAS MANNERS! INFORM EMILY POST!”
But now…instead of handing Pax the cracker….Mike was dangling it in front of him. Pax’s ‘DAT’ was now being met with, “Pax, say CRACKER, PLEASE.” I suddenly realize that Mike and I are both listening – with baited breath – for his response. And trying (unsuccessfully) to fake nonchalance. Mike tries again: ”CRAAAACKKEEEER….PLEEEASSSE”. Pax stares back. Then, verrry carefully he says, “YUUUUUUP.”
Well played, Pax. Well played.
I do find myself getting all sweaty and uncomfortable around other parents sometimes. Not all parents – not parents of multiple kids certainly, they tend to know better – but parents of just one kid, one precocious kid. Parents who don’t know kids that well, parents who certainly don’t know Pax. I think they think something is wrong with him. Mentally. Between his one-word speech, his almost total refusal to answer anyone he doesn’t know, and the fact (and this is the WORST) that he mimics his brother’s antics…well. I start to sweat. I mean – when a five year old sticks out his bum and pretends to fart and laughs hysterically….most people are like, “OK. That’s a five-year-old.” But when a two year old does it? At the park? And no one knows quite what he’s doing OR that he has an older brother at home AND he doesn’t otherwise talk…??
I see pity in their eyes. PITY. OMG.
PAX IS FINE!!! I want to scream. HE’S TRYING TO BE FUNNY!! STOP LOOKING WORRIED AND JUST LAUGH!!!!
And he is FINE. Really. Since his birthday, his speech is much improved. His vocab has expanded dramatically, and he’s starting to use more than one word at a time. Which is a welcome change. For a while, he was firmly sticking to one-word sentences:
“Mom!” (waits for me to look at him) ”NAKE!” (snake) “BEET” (big)
His “beet” was said with accompanying hand gestures so I can see exactly how big the snake is. His inner world, his imagination, is out of control. He’ll play for hours on his own, making his little collection of stuff interact. It’s awesome to watch.
But the rest of this stuff? That “speech” stuff? It’s all in there. I know it is. I just need to have patience, and to trust my little guy. It’ll come out when he’s ready, right?