One of the most valuable lessons I have learned as LilZ has grown up is that All Children Are Different. LilZ didn’t start reading when most of the kids his age did, and some people in our family made a big deal about that. “Why isn’t he reading yet? So-in-so is! You need to work with him more!” I really enjoyed hearing that because (a) it was assuming that I didn’t work with him – which couldn’t have been farther from the truth and (b) passively implied that there was something wrong with the speed at which LilZ was learning. Both things are fantastic to feel as a parent, by the way.
Well – as anyone who knows LilZ now can attest – he definitely made up for lost time. The kid is an avid reader that has even started this year venturing into the world of popular adult fiction novels because he’s getting a wee bored with the “Teen” section at Barnes and Noble. So, the delay in learning to read? Did nothing to his long-term academic achievement.
Why, then, do I worry so much about NikkiZ not talking as much as the other kids in her class? She has a few words she says and knows what they mean: Trash. Baby. Trash. Puppy. Trash. Woof Woof. Trash. (If you give her something to throw away she will say “Trash” every time. Has she yet to say “Mommy” in a way that shows she knows it’s me? No.) She has a few sounds: Bay-Bay and Mee-Mee which seem to vary in meaning depending on the situation. Sometimes I think she’s saying “Mommy” in reference to me, but this weekend it seemed like it was her name for her Grandma. And “Bay-Bay” sometimes sounds like “Baby” when she is playing with her doll, but she also uses it when she wants a cracker or possibly has a stinky diaper.
Why do I care? The smart and logical part of me knows she will speak when she wants to and this is not a sign of slow development as much as it is a sign of her being damn stubborn. Sometimes she gives us that look like, “Yeah. Right. I’ll say ‘Daddy’ when you let me eat cookies for breakfast.” Other times she just looks bored. I honestly don’t believe there’s anything wrong with her. But – when the other kids in her class are all, “Mommy!” when their Moms get there or “Dog!” or “Cat!” or “Platypus!” when it’s storytime – I get a little frustrated because I want to hear my daughter say “Kack Kack” when I ask her what a duck does.
Instead she only consistently says, “No! No! No!” which, of course, is the other word she knows PERFECTLY. She points to things she’s not allowed to touch and says, “No! No! No!” to show us she knows not to touch Mommy’s beer. I guess I should be grateful for that. I think I’d rather have a toddler who knows the value of Mommy’s Friday Night Brew than one who knows her shirt is green.