“What were you eating, Mama?”
“Did you have ice cream with your birthday cake?”
“Well, ice cream is a lovely thing to have with birthday cake.”
At what point do I stop being amazed with the things that come out of his mouth and just accept that he is now a full-blown talker? The Who was, by all counts, an “early talker” and has been surprising, amusing, and stunning us all (parents, teachers, and doctors alike) with not only his vocabulary, but his seemingly innate ability to conjugate and manipulate words. He, for example, rarely, if ever, says “teached” or “goed.” It has always been “taught” and “went.” And I remember at his 2-year well visit with the pediatrician, he was looking out the window at traffic on the highway and said, “Look at all those trucks and cars driving out there!” His doctor’s jaw dropped and I said, “What? Cars and trucks?” She said, “No. Driving out there.” It was a phrase that, to her, signified a really advanced movement from thought to language, but one that I, as his mama who was with him all the time, didn’t hear as at all unusual or remarkable. I knew he was verbally advanced because people kept telling me, but I was a kid who practically came out of the womb talking and was reading by three, so his apparently ahead-of-the-curve speech never struck me as remarkable.
Lately, though, he is coming out with these complex sentences and using vocabulary in such an intuitive way that I find myself constantly reporting the things he said — in texts to m* or on Facebook or even just repeating to a nearby friend. But then this morning it occurred to me: maybe it’s not extraordinary. Maybe this is the way three-year-olds talk. Maybe I’ve been conditioned to think of his language as advanced because he started early and has always been very articulate for his age. I’m not sure. I don’t spend enough time around other three-year-olds, I guess. The internet seems to suggest that “many kids can string together 3 or 4 word sentences,” and that “you should be able to understand about 75% of what they say (“Communication” par. 8). Really? Is that the norm? Just that one ice-cream-and-cake sentence was eleven words long and that was certainly not his most complex sentence by a long shot. And I would say that I understand 99.9% of what he says and if I can’t understand it, I can ask him to say it another way and he does.
I don’t mean to be a braggart about my Precious Special Snowflake’s amazing genius. I just really don’t feel like I have a sense of what is remarkable and what just is.
What about you? Do you find yourself similarly questioning things about your kid’s development? What does your kid do that is awesome, but that you kind of take for granted?
“Communication and Your 2-3 Year Old.” kidshealth.org. KidsHealth, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2012.