Since we had switched to a new doctor, I was able to see the notes that Nathan’s previous doctors had written. One of them read, “Nathan’s father is a large man.” Supposedly, this was to account for Nathan’s size, but really, it makes me look like I married Shrek.
The new doctor was very patient and ran through the requisite questions about diet and motor skills. Physically, he is on track. He can perform all the skills that toddlers at 18 months should be able to do.
Though he babbles all the time, but Nathan has only two real words: mama and dada.
The doctor referred us to an audiologist to find out if Nathan’s hearing is affecting his vocabulary. “Maybe he’s not hearing the whole word,” he said. “That could affect his speech.” If his vocabulary hasn’t grown in three to four months, we might try speech therapy.
When we left, my heart sank. My whole life as a mother had been flung down a greased spiral, heading down into neuroses and shoulda woulda couldas. I’ve left every other appointment with a proud sense of accomplishment. Nathan has always been in the high 90+ percentiles for weight, height and head size, especially head. That huge head has to be filled with brain, right?
I know, boys develop slower than girls. I know, so-and-so didn’t talk until he was four. So-and-so couldn’t stop talking once she did, don’t worry Mona.
It is easier for me to share that Nathan will eat a pound of spinach. That he laughs constantly. That he is bubbly and smiley. His body is solid and healthy.
But these other truths are lodged in my throat.
It is difficult to admit that he cannot say anything more than “mama” and “dada.” Sometimes he will hold the phone to his shoulder and say, “Hey Jew,” but that’s only when he’s hitting up his honey at the yeshiva. It’s hard to tell others, especially mothers with children who are geniuses, who can sign and point and write sonnets in crayon.
I want the space and freedom to freak out. I want to have the ability to tell someone there’s something wrong but we’re working on it.
I’ve been thinking about what Nathan has inherited. Mike has a story that when he was little, he talked so much that his mother paid him a dollar to shut up for an afternoon. This was a monumental event because in the early 60s, a dollar could get you hundred candy bars or a model T. And Mike’s mother basked in that silent house, free from young Mike’s constant inquiry.
I have faith in my son. I believe that he is learning at his own pace. He has my brain and Mike’s and yet, a brain wired uniquely just for him. I believe that eventually the right synapses in his brain will fire off so rapidly that there will be many words and I won’t have enough money to stop it.