A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: speech and language

Rebel Yell

Many swimming things in my mind the past couple weeks…some with the potential to be incredible…some notsomuch, but all have delayed my writing. I ran through my comfortable reserve with no motivation to cobble together the post that has consumed real estate in my gray matter for a month. Finally, here I am, and I hope it is worth the exceedlying long wait.

I posted Warrior Queen’s love of my singing shortly after her birth, something quite shocking to me…my voice is terrible, and generally I’ve never particularly had much yearning to break into song.

Image result for sound of music

(Nope.)

But, music is good for kids, so I buried my dignity in the backyard and danced on a field in the mountains with the rest of the crazies who get this shit. So imbedded in my routine throughout the last two years that I incorporate music instinctually all the time. It’s actually quite ridiculous. I find myself singing to myself whenever the kids are around regardless if I believe they are listening…Aren’t they ALWAYS listening?

Image result for hiding children

(Friendship Circle understands the cloak and dagger innate in small children…especially when it’s most inconvenient.)

I make-up random songs for random reasons. Sometimes it’s to announce a transition of little importance. Sometimes to urge Little Man to progress anywhere faster than a glacial meander…or move at all. Shockingly it works a good chunk of the time, and I have absolutely no idea why. Sometimes I’m simply excited…like the arrival of nap time…three-years-old Mr. Man continues to nap two hours in the afternoon. At times my son will ask me to repeat one of my spontaneous little ditties, and I usually can’t remember the lyrics for the life of me. Some occasions my inability to recreate vocal magic prompts a tantrum, but they are typically reserved for when I have a headache or desperately need to use the facilities. All in all, I’m surprised that my singing skill has improved, which is helpful for our broken glass budget allotment.

Image result for shattered wine glass

(Opera singers…and Pinterest…have nothin’ on me. We started using plastic dishware long ago.)

Warrior Queen benefitted from my singing practices while residing comfortably in my uterus for thirty-seven-and-a-half weeks. Often I would feel her flip or move a certain way while I sang…or read. She was quite active throughout the pregnancy, but there was something unique to her movement during Little Man singalongs or story time. She always knew, and I always loved it. It’s one of the few positive memories from her wretched pregnancy. Consequent to the frequent occurrences of my singing, she’s primed to enjoy my melodious song renditions now that she exists in the outside world…lucky girl.

Her first word in the ten-months neighborhood was, “MMM…Meh…Mmmm…Meh.” It’s her version of Mommy, and I’m not kidding when I say it counts as a word. Warrior Queen utilized this specific speech pattern whenever she needed me. Now that she is mobile, she wails it throughout a pained crawl just to ensure I understand the depth of her displeasure, willing me to prepare and act accordingly. At this early stage it’s about the association. If she said /b/ while pointing to her bottle, that would be another word.

A few weeks ago, however, I witnessed her first and only sign. Little Man had a speech delay, so I’ve never experienced this phase, and let me say, it’s lovely. Having birthed two children, it seems a child rearing standard in our household that all the monumentally wonderful things first happen on the changing table…intelligent design perhaps? Warrior Queen at eleven-months is generally opposed to diaper changes, and forcefully asserts the degree to which she would rather not experience the situation. She doesn’t quite respond to playing with toys during the process like her brother two years ago. But, one morning she was decidedly unhappy with my diaper change pursuit, complaining quite vocally and squirming to grab the plastic bag we use to collect non poop wiping articles. I often sing to my children on the changing table. But, for whatever reason when I began singing my somewhat unique version of “Wheels on the Bus,” Warrior Queen snapped her head to look me in the eyes, absolutely delighted. I ran through the first verse to which she enthusiastically signedmore.” She is little, so it looks more like applauding than anything else, but it is marvelous nonetheless.

Since that first instance, Warrior Queen continues to urge my continuation of music, but she’s discovered that she will be awarded other pleasant things at her request…like ice cream. My favorite moment of late was during my own relatively rare ice cream indulgence. My husband holding our fierce sprite of a girl, but she was facing me staring down my mug of ice cream with a slightly protruding tongue movement that is akin to slow motion lip smacking. I suppose it is never too early to salivate for something as grand as ice cream, and my daughter is certainly a budding foodie like her big brother…and mommy. After a few of my spoon to mouth taunts, Warrior Queen signed “more;” naturally I obliged.

An interesting result I wasn’t expecting as I dusted off my baby signing form of communication; Little Man began doing the same. It isn’t the complete breadth of vocabulary he used before the floodgate of chatter emerged a little under a year ago, but he periodically throws random correct context signs I haven’t introduced to his baby sister quite yet. At times it’s like he forgets he knows how to speak…or his hands move magically without his conscious thought. Sometimes his sparsely signed words are in response to conversation in the background while he sings something unrelated.

Little Man may very well have a gift for music…possibly perfect pitch. He certainly didn’t receive such a skill from me. Warrior Queen is beginning to communicate beyond her wails of displeasure and giddy chuckles. Even if the rest of the world doesn’t see it as such, I wonder what gifts she will bring.

Socrates, Shakespeare, Ellison, García Márquez, and a Toddler

My a-little-over-two-year-old son is finally speaking.  Expectedly, some of his language is clear to anyone, and some of it only becomes clear to me after several renditions of the speech pattern and a lucky guess.  Receptive comprehension was never an issue, but my husband and I took full advantage of his inability to repeat our commentary, which I know is problematic moving forward, yet I continue to offer my invaluable insight on social happenings, politics, or random life observations peppered with a host of colorful and creative terminology to anyone who will listen.  Maybe it’s the hormones; maybe it’s the sleep deprivation, but I’m not all that motivated to censor myself.

Sometimes when an adult asks Little Man a question he will provide a quick, “Yes,” and sometimes he means what he uttered.  And, there are those times when the gravity of his agreement supersedes a simple affirmative acknowledgment.  When asked if he enjoyed his time at a park, for instance, he provides a low key and dragged out, “Oh,” accompanied by a concerned and serious facial expression appropriate for the conversational setting.  It’s adorable.  But, neither my husband nor I knew how he came to develop such a sweet and funny articulation…until last weekend.  I do that, but decidedly less cute and endearing.  So, I’ll remember this example when my luck finally expires, and my son joins the masses of toddlers expressing their unique identities…by expressing a parent’s.

Fork and other Four-Letter Words

A smidge over two-years-old and my son finally started talking.  At this point he is where he should have been at eighteen-months, but the tidal wave is washing over him in monumentally overflowing succession.  The progress can be counted in a mere few weeks.  Of course, with such delights comes the realization that I must begin to filter my commentary, not so much for individual inappropriate words, but I’m waiting for him to regurgitate some criticism in front of the very person I will be in the process of barely tolerable pleasantries.

Awkward conversational happenstance aside, to say I have a potty mouth is one of the greatest understatements of the year.  I absolutely love using profanity…not quite as much as eating chocolate, but abstinence would make my heart heavy with grief and experience a general dissatisfaction with life.  Sophisticated words are lovely and important, but colorful, creative words that could possibly make other people shudder with their icky descriptiveness are so much better.  As is, my filter around my children isn’t too bad, but my story telling lacks a certain oomph these days…maybe I’m creating excuses.  But, there is something delectably awesome about combining multisyllabic highbrow descriptors with dialogue read on a middle school bathroom stall…my mother would be so proud…

We’ll see the path my daughter follows, but for now many of the words my son utters have a distinct trucker quality to them that I try to avoid nurturing.  Many instances in the past couple weeks required me to double take and assess, “No, he is asking for a fork,” or “I’m fairly certain he wants a different shirt.”  Sometimes I’m not entirely sure what he’s saying, but I’ll tell myself it’s jargon, rather than the precursor to what will have him sent to the preschool Principal’s office.  In the meantime, I will increase my censoring efforts around my sweet-faced cherubs, but I make no promises when I’m in the exclusive company of adults.

It’s Never All Bad

I don’t like leaving things on sour notes, so perhaps it’s time for some sweet news.  As I wrote many posts ago, my son is receiving speech and language services.  His therapist thinks it is an issue of motor planning.  From her characterization I’m inclined to agree although I don’t have an array of selection understanding.  He likes her.  He likes the toys she brings, and seeks opportunities to pilfer her giant monogramed bag immediately upon her arrival.  I have to say I like her too.  She is the right mix of knowledge of her craft with honesty of research and literature deficits.  She stated that motor planning typically resolves on its own, but the purpose of the intervention is to help it correct in a good way (i.e., He doesn’t start avoiding certain sounds or develop other unhelpful habits as a result.).  I can buy that.

It hasn’t been much time since he began, but I think I see positive shifts in his language development and behavior even though he continues to point and gyrate his needs as his primary mode of communication.  He’ll get there at some point, and it will likely be repetitions of my snarky commentary that he will choose to recite when it is least appropriate as his grand awakening to the art of speaking.

Little Man reached the point in his treatment length when a brief behavior assessment is administered.  There are no concerns, but there was a specific question that made me feel better about something that I mull over whenever I take my son somewhere he is allowed to explore on his own to some extent.

Having a professional emphasis in children and families, I’ve taken several classes discussing attachment theory and the various child development assumptions.  I’m lousy with all of them, especially really understanding the implications of attachment theory.  Actually, the only area in this academic arena that makes sense are Piaget and Erikson, but I wouldn’t harken me for a lecture on their specifics.

Part of what I have clear recollection of from my two graduate programs is this notion that toddlers my son’s age trot off, but frequently check back to ensure their parents are present.  Mr. Man just trots off.  If I set him down at the mall, he just goes never looking back to me for assurance like I’ve heard in so many classes over.  I haven’t been concerned per se, but I wondered what that meant.  I described to the therapist this behavior following a specific question from her assessment.  She looks at me and says, “Wow, he has really strong attachment.”  Toward the end of the day’s lesson, Mr. Man backs into my nonexistent lap without looking…like he always does.  I think nothing of it, but the therapist notes almost to herself, “He just knows Mommy is there.”  I still don’t understand attachment theories much less their implications, but I’ll take whatever good news I can after a time span of stuff that I can’t believe has only filled a week.

At the end of the day it was pleasing to see my little man using his coy manipulations with his therapist to get what he wants without actually participating in things that are required; He’s quite ingenious, actually.  I liked having a professional in the room who chuckled at his antics, and that would have been enough, but she says, “His cognitive abilities are really advanced.”  I don’t know what that will mean for his future, and it isn’t like I thought differently about my son’s intelligence prior to her comment, but since the idea of him I’ve been determined not to think of such things, asserting that I have no issue setting high expectations, but they will be for him, not me and my desires for his future.  But, when everything is an avalanche of bombardment, it’s quite pleasant to have good things pointed out for me because of the extra burden it is to retrieve them among the issue cacophony.  I still don’t spend too much time considering my aspirations for my son that are more his responsibility as he grows, but I like hearing other people notice the things that make me smile.

Intervening Maybes

It’s been a frequent aside mention for months in this blog.  My kid isn’t talking even though he is almost twenty months.  He is certainly vocal.  He certainly communicates.  He most certainly understands everything I say.  His memory is fine.  He tells jokes and is surprisingly considerate of other people much of the time.

Last night was the long awaited behavioral assessment courtesy of a private nonprofit early intervention agency/program and federal/state social investment.

I’ve spent much of the time between the initial phone call and this appointment not feeling concerned, and, frankly, a bit curious about the process this entails.  I am trained and practiced in literacy intervention which has some components of speech and language, but my population is older adolescents or adults.  Even with the help of the expertise of Google, I don’t really have a good handle on early speech.  Little Man seems to do things that aren’t listed, but nowhere near the things that are in this area.

Of course, everyone has an opinion and suggestion.  I wish I had financial reimbursement for every time I’ve heard, “He’s a boy.”  Through this waiting process I continued to watch and interact with my happy and loving little man and turn a blind ear to the outside noise because it is just that, noise.

The afternoon arrived.  Three women would be conducting the normed assessment.  I asked a couple of questions as a special educator who has administered my fair share of these types of things; I certainly have my biases regarding normed assessments and what they reveal.  I’ve also cultivated a fine cynicism regarding interventions and the role of corporations.  This isn’t to say that I’m hostile or not open, but approach this process and its results with caution.

While the women were professional and seemingly ethical, it occurred to me that they were quite conservative in their conclusions of my son’s accomplishments in all areas tested.  While their determination wasn’t completely off base in grey areas, I could see the undertone of the most likely scores to receive services once everything was tallied.  I understand these places are a business, so this is not to say that there was an air of sketchiness requiring me to take a long shower into the early morning, rather an interesting note.  My son barely met the benchmark for receiving services in communication, but he did technically qualify.  He isn’t talking yet and no one can say why, so qualification is not necessarily bad or unwelcome news.

We will be contacted in a couple of weeks by a caseworker.  In the meantime we received a few recommendations to bridge the gap until our sessions begin.  Two I already do without results thus far.  The other won’t hurt, but I couldn’t help but wonder if all the recommendations were chosen because they sound like they would be effective or because research and data determined they are.  But, it isn’t worth the fight.  Their suggestions won’t do harm and aren’t all that cumbersome, so why not?  Such an interesting state of mind; imagine if other professional areas relied on the same guiding principles…

I sound rational and together right?  Then maybe you can explain why I broke down when I had a moment to lie down after returning home.  As much as I know my son’s language delay is not my fault; it isn’t anyone’s; it very much feels that it is.  I’m his primary caregiver, so shouldn’t it be on me to shepherd my wonderful offspring through his development?

I’ve had so many similar conversations over the years with families confronted with mental illness.  Often it isn’t anyone’s fault.  Bad luck. Bad genes. Whatever, it doesn’t matter…  But, now I’m on the other end sitting through almost two hours of a process I only vaguely understand.  While I knew some of the skills tested were well beyond what is reasonable for my son at this time, every failure of his to produce the desired result felt like my failure to him.  I had no notion of where each skill presented fell in the age range.  He happily played along, charming the room, but the constant ill ease through the assessment duration sat on my head, pressing down until well after the results were presented.

It sounds crazy.  Maybe because I’m pregnant.  Maybe because I began the week feeling delicate because of another issue occurring a mere couple days ago.  Maybe I don’t want my son to struggle as I did for so long.  At the end of the day the answer to “maybe” isn’t important, rather its existence.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: