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?
I ran across a video of my first when he was around the same age as my second…in which I recorded all his misspeaks that I thought were cute, “tack-a-tuck” instead of tractor and the like. And it made me remember how my husband would say the most complicated words for him to repeat just because he really could give it a good shot. Didn’t really worry me because I’ve always just figured that kids develop differently. My first put ALL his energy into verbal development. My second has done most of his developing on the physical/motor skills level. And, like Pax, he understands everything. Better than my first did at this age. I was talking to my boss about it and he started scaring me telling me stories of his second who ended up needing a hearing aid. When I said I wasn’t worried because of the understanding, he said his did, too…that he developed strategies to understand them, by watching cues or reading lips or whatever. So I did ask my pediatrician at the next appointment…told him how he’s slower in the verbal developement and all his words have some kind of error – “eat” is “eee” or “sock” is “saaah” and whatnot. The pediatrician told me it was way early (mine’s 20 months) and brought out a list of what sounds they should be able to make by when. And the list didn’t even really start until 3, with a lot of the sounds (like “ph” and “k”) not until 5. We’ve also been watching more closely since the boss-scare…and no, he really does understand. If I’m sitting behind him reading him a story and I ask him where the umbrella is, he’ll point to it. He’s not reading my lips because he can’t see them, and I’m not giving him any physical cues. So he can definitely hear and understand. And we’ve had a vocabulary explosion over the past two weeks. He was just like Pax refusing to repeat any words…made my mother-in-law CRAZY. One day she went on a two-hour walk with him and spent the entire 2 hours trying to get him to repeat the word “auto” (german for car – my kids are bilingual). He refused the entire time. Now all of a sudden he’s turned into a parrot. All that to say, I figure you probably know best. I knew there wasn’t a problem but let myself get freaked out for a bit. Just listen to what your instincts are telling you. On a different note, from what my boss said, the therapy isn’t so much of the “say car” sort, it’s more via play from what he said.
I have four boys and my first was an early talker. My second, third, and fourth didn’t start saying more than just a few choice words until after they turned two. To be fair, they evidently didn’t see the need; I taught them simple sign words early on. Funny story: my second was a man of few words, and yet just a couple of weeks after he turned two, my husband and I were talking and he said, “Mom! Dad! You need to be quiet. I can’t concentrate!”
I think everybody has a story from their family or circle of friends of a child who hardly talked at all and then suddenly busted out complete sentences out of nowhere, 0 to 80. Pax may be one of those…not wanting to talk much until he can say it all! That said, I would probably accept the doctor’s advice for speech therapy if it were my child. Speech therapists are great, highly trained, and I don’t think they will make it “a thing.” Like the above commenter said, it is fun, interactive, playing, etc. Pax would probably love it!
I absolutely believe, above all else in parenting, in trusting your gut. Despite all the things I’ve “tried”, that always works the best. And you know Pax more deeply than anyone else possibly could. I felt my heart sink a little when I read that my FB status caused you to worry, but I hope you know I am one of those moms who would trust that you know what is going on with your kid and you will always be doing the best thing for him! Can’t wait to get our 3 kids together this summer, if we’re lucky Pax can teach Vesper the art of subtlety, Vesper can teach him to ask as many annoying questions in one minute as possible, and poor Raines will just roll his eyes in the most loving big brother way ever. 🙂
First born children talk mostly to adults and pick up talking pretty quick it seems. That’s how Anne was. Jai being a year younger (and also a girl) talked pretty young Amber and Kenna followed with not as much time to talk as the four girls all tried to get words in. Then there was Zack. He could talk alright but who needed to when 4sisters and mom could speak for him. Lol I even now will interpret between Ken and Zack (like he can’t get his own thoughts out) haha. Now the lucky man has 4 sisters a mom and a beautiful wife to speak for him. Who needs to talk? Shana, Pax will talk in his own time, that is if he feels the need to. Love you girl.
LOL I just now saw this! It’s great! With so many people to talk for him, Zack never has to say a word! 😉 I wonder if the same held true for you and I, Shana – if you spoke for me when we were growing up? We should ask Mom . . .
Don’t worry! We were there with one. He did not like to repeat anything anyone else said. At about age 3 he was explaining things in whole sentences. I still have a list of 75 words he used that sounded similar to the real words. However, only family truly understood. He read early and is doing well in college. I think Pax is on the right track. Why restate the obvious?
My mom is a psychologist who works with school age kids and whenever I stress about my boys’ development (and there have been some hiccups), she always reminds me that the range of normal for all these developmental milestones is HUGE. I’m sure it will be fine, but if he does need some help, that will also be fine – you’ll shepherd him through it will be okay.
Second children always talk later–especially when they have vocal and attentive older siblings. In the time I spent with you guys, I saw an alert and active little mind working underneath that blonde hair of his–watching everyone, listening to his brother and his mama, paying attention to this strange lady who was hanging out with him, eyeing that new baby warily, putting together those complicated airplanes. It never, ever, ever struck me that he should be any way other than what he was–his crazy, sweet, quiet little spirit. You are doing a great job, mama. Trust your gut. You know your little men better than anyone.
I love your honesty and your response to the pressure. My Jack didn’t talk until he was almost two. The moms in our play group were all going to speech therapy and were kind of judging me for not taking him. I just knew in my gut that he was fine. And now he talks. A LOT! He didn’t even say “momma” not once until he was 21 months old. You know your children more than anyone else. I like your example of following your instinct. Thanks for sharing.
I stalk your blog (ever since clicking over from ANMJ to read your topless on a plane story) but have never commented – I am in the exact same boat as you were: my son is 2 and a month and not stringing words at all. He is actually my first though, but I stay home and he doesn’t go to daycare. I’m trying to trust my gut as well but part of me is still really, really worried. Just wondering how Pax is doing now?
Better…much better. But the whole stringing thing is still pretty slow. The kid is a master at telling stories with one-word sentences. “Mom! Run! Boom! Ow!! Yad!” (Mom, I was running, then I fell boom and got hurt and now I’m sad.) You know. That kind of thing. I may actually try a speech therapist soon, just to SEE….I have a friend that went that route and said the sessions were tons of fun for both her and the kid, soooo….but I’ll let you know. 🙂 In my gut, I do think the kid is fine. You know?
Yeah, I totally get that. I keep thinking “If I was a friend telling this to myself I would tell me not to worry and to go with my gut!” Kids do develop so differently and for some reason we group them into “normal” and “behind” when maybe they are just different kinds of normal. I’m glad to hear Pax is doing better with his speech! He sounds like so much crazy fun. =)