Okay. This post is not supposed to be. I’ve written it twice. And now lost it twice. The first version was, of course, Pulitzer worthy. The second, was close to perfection. I guess we’ll have to see about the third. Assuming I don’t somehow lose it as well.
My son just turned two years old. Not until we moved to Kansas when he was 17 months old did he say "mama." He had occasional words before then. Like "car," but they were never repeated and thus lead me to believe it was some freak occurrence between his lips and tongue while breathing a certain way. Not really talking. Mostly he would just breathe in and out with a lot of expression.
He has a speech therapist now whom he adores. He also has about 30 words and a dozen signs that I think most people could understand. He’s only ever put one two-word phrase together, "Hi Brett," to my husband’s brother last weekend.
I’m not really overly concerned. I’m sure he’ll speak someday. And until then, I can be assured that he’s a genius, silently taking in the world around him and assessing things before he chooses to open his mouth and contribute. My husband read the economist Thomas Sowell’s The Einstein Syndrome, which he wrote about late-talking kids because he had one himself. And Einstein was one. See... genius I tell you. What I gather from this book is that most people will try to put your kid into some category, based on their inability to speak. But it isn’t really an inability, more of a delay.
Everyone has a story to tell about someone they know who was speech delayed. My husband’s 95 year old grandma always tells me about her brother who was three when finally his mother stopped waiting on him hand and foot and he needed to speak and said something along the lines of, "Hey, get me some water." My favorite story of the sort is from Haven Kimmel’s A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana. Kimmel relates the following story from her mom's baby book for her:
The last entry is dated four months before my third birthday:
This weekend we went camping. After dinner little Zippy was running in circles around the campfire, drinking from her bottle, and Bob decided she'd had it long enough. He walked over to her and said, "Sweetheart, you're a big girl now, and it's time for you to give up that bottle. I want you to just give it to me, and we're going to throw it in the fire. Okay?" This was met with many protests from Danny and Melinda and me; we all felt that there was no call to take something away from one who has so little. The baby looked at us; back at her dad, and then pulled the bottle out of her mouth with an audible pop, and said, clear as daylight, "I'll make a deal with you." Her first words! Bob didn't hesitate. "What's the deal?" She said, "If you let me keep it, I'll hide it when company comes and I won't tell no-body." He thought about it for just a moment, then shook his head. "Nope. No deal." So she handed over the bottle, and we all stood together while Bob threw it in the fire. It was a little pink bottle, made of plastic. It melted into a pool.
Now that we know she can talk, all I can say is: dear God. Please give that child some hair. Amen.