Look who’s (not) talking

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.

Except talking.

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?

He’ll meet the audiologist soon. I’m reading The Late Talker and everything else Amalah has written on this.

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.

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  1. Mrs. Blogoway says:

    I’m so sorry to hear you down. I’m not used to it. I know you don’t want to be consoled. As a mom, we feel it’s our job to worry but I want you to know, one of my best friends has a little boy that wasn’t talking “on schedule”. Now he is making up for lost time. I really think it’s a sign of extreme intelligence. They’re just storing up everything for when they feel the time is right.

  2. My baby is 13 months old and she can’t really chew. She gags on most finger foods. So when most babies are shoving handfuls of Cheerios into their mouths, mine, if she puts one in her mouth, gags until she vomits. If she is not chewing by 15 months we will have to see a specialist who will TEACH HER HOW TO CHEW. They actually have specialists who do that.

    As for talking, my children, who ARE geniuses, 😉 didn’t talk early or even on time, for that matter. But now… what would a dollar in the sixties be today, with inflation and all? I might try that with a couple of my kids.

  3. I think we all get so caught up in the by age blank they should be doing blank. That when that does or doesn’t happen it throws the world off. Of course perspective is easy to have when it isn’t your kid, right?

    What I can say is this, I see light and playfulness and connectedness in your little boy’s eyes and I think with the right professional in your corner, you are going to see his world change.

  4. Oh I could talk for days about this. Owen was a “late talker” He didn’t really start saying anything at all until 2 and a half, yep 2 and a half. His old DR wanted hearing tests and speech therapy. That was when my experience with the old ped started going down hill. Everything in my gut said just wait, wait, wait. Pediatricians mostly go by these textbook standards that are designed to make us feel like we have superhuman kids or the most handicapped kid, I absolutely fucking hate the “systems” pediatricians use. So we switched to a natropath. That is besides the point though, all that matters is we did nothing but keep reading and talking to Owen and now he won’t shut up. It was like something went off in his brain one night and the next day he just started trying words. You would never guess he was a late talker now at age 3. So listen to your gut before listening to the DRs. A hearing test is good to rule anything out, but if he hears fine and he was my child I would wait a little longer before sending him to therapy, that’s just my opinion.

  5. thecandyqueen says:

    Not to fear. Maybe he’s just quiet. I didn’t talk until I was in community college 🙂 My mother says I was the laziest baby ever…That instead of crying, when I wanted something, I made a quacking sound, like a duck…I was really quiet; and observer. Maybe Nathan is too. And also, doctors don’t know everything, always get a second opinion. Their words aren’t gold. If you’re interested in treating Nathan naturally and getting great advice, I know of a fabulous, Harvard educated homeopathic doctor in the U. Dist that I’ve seen since I was 4. He’s wonderful. Keep your chin up!

  6. I’m sorry for the worry. It just sucks–no getting around it. A lot of times our worry ends up being for nothing, but that doesn’t matter a lick.

    Melia has had speech and physical therapy for awhile now. I have mixed feelings about it–the obsessiveness it can foster and create, the need to label when there isn’t always something wrong, etc. But I’ve also seen the wonderful things it can do for some kids, or even the regular things it can do, like give my kid an hour when someone just wants to play with her.

    If you ever want to talk about things, let me know.

  7. Butrfly Garden says:

    I don’t have a lot of words – none of wisdom, anyway. Just know that you can tell us anything. Even if writing it hurts, there are so many people who understand and want to make you feel better. And anyone who had anything else to say about it can be forgotten with the click of the garbage can.

    It WILL be okay. No matter what the cause, it doesn’t make him any less of a child or you any less of a mother.

    Okay, and the notes: Wtf? I didn’t know they made notes like that. Now I’m curious.

  8. I had exactly the same worries with Rosalyn, who wasn’t even saying Mama/Dada at 18 months. Gibberish was it. I worried and worried, and thought of trying to get a referral to speech therapy.

    But I didn’t, and Im glad I didn’t.Months later, she began to talk, in her own time.

    We’re so quick to think the worst aren’t we? I worried that Rosalyn was deaf, that she’d never talk, etc etc etc. And I turned out to be wrong.

    Give him time. Every kid is different, and most have absolutely nothing wrong with them other than being stubborn and doing things when they’re damn good and ready.

    I totally get the freaking out though. And I know that nothing will make it better until he talks. 🙂

  9. lauralaylin says:

    Andy’s now 19 months old and he’s said maybe 3 words (still no mama). I know it’s not a hearing thing because he understands so much. But this is the one thing I wanted him to do earlier because I have a severely autistic brother who never learned to speak. It’s my hang up. My pediatrician has decided he’s just late and doesn’t want to send him to a specialist. While this is good on the one hand, I sort of worry that he’ll start it too late if he needs it. I’d love to hear how things go for you all, please keep us updated. And good luck to you all!

  10. la vie joie says:

    Turst your instincts and the rest will follow.
    I’m sure his doctor has Nathan’s best interest in mind.

  11. Mona, we mothers agonize over everything because of our great love for our kids. I read somewhere once that having children was like deciding to have your heart go walking around outside your body. Get the tests and remember that even with the results Nathan is a marvel! Peyton went through speech impediments until five and half when they just DISAPPEARED. Whatever happens, you will have support and love.

  12. awww..don’t worry Mo. RJ could only say juice and mama until he was 2 and a half. One pediatrician tried to get me to bring him to a speech therapist but my dad refused because he didn’t want RJ to be “labeled”. Once he started talking though three years later he still hasn’t stopped. Don’t let the dr’s freak you out. He’s fine. 🙂

  13. Keep believing — and saving up your pennies for that “I wish he would shut up!!” day!

  14. Mona – we completely get the part about wanting to have the space to freak out. Go ahead and do as much of that as you need to. But when you’re ready to hear more “kid didn’t talk ‘on schedule’ and then suddenly started talking and never shut up” stories, we’ve got one for you too. Hang in there.

  15. I’m sorry for the worry too. You’re an amazing mom and Nathan is an awesome kid.

  16. I’m sorry, this must be tough. It seems that you cannot swing a dead cat on the internet without hearing about late talkers, though, so you are not alone.

    Also, “Nathan’s father is a large man”. HA!

  17. The twins (2.25 years old) aren’t talking much yet. And the words they do say are REALLY UNCLEAR. I know it’s probably okay (my first two were late, too, and they’re fine now), but I’m secretly freaked out and also hiding it from the pediatrician because I don’t want him to confirm I’m right to worry when I think I’m probably wrong.

  18. I have faith that all will be well. I was walking and talking at a very early age, I was hoping my daughter would follow in my footsteps, she didn’t. Some milestones were “on time” and some weren’t. We’ll see how it goes with Jacob.

    About 2 years ago my friend was dealing with the same issue. A little work with a speech therapist and some exercises at home and viola! He was just a little later than some, but no less smart or special.

  19. your child is obviously a total miracle and perfect. just watch, you all go and write this entry and next week he spits a whole sentence. i’d be going nuts, too, though, and i hear what you’re saying. have a few good cries and feel sorry. throw something too. it helps.

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