Will my child ever sleep all night?
Will my child ever roll over?
Will my child ever crawl?
Will my child ever walk?
Is it normal for my child to make an absolute disaster every where they go?
Will my child ever be capable of effectively communicating with me - without whining or screaming?
I've heard of people who have children, around the same age as our toddlers, that are purportedly talking up a blue-streak. Their vocabulary consists of over 300 intelligible words, they can also speak and understand a second language, and they can perform over 200 various sign language signs.
That's really impressive considering my own vocabulary consists of a mere 150 words, the magnitude of my second language skills extends to ordering a beer and chips, and I'm only capable of signing "more ice cream."
I've also heard that it's likely our girls will be talking sooner than our boy.
I recall my good friend telling me that when her 2-year old daughter would play with a neighborhood boy, her little girl could articulate things like "Mommy, look at the ball. It's translucent."
Meanwhile, the 2-year old boy would grunt "Ooga Booga bawh!"
Until I had children of my own, I thought that all "normal" two-year old children were suppose to be capable of adequately expressing themselves with an appropriate vocabulary. I also thought that I would be having conversations about translucent objects with our girls while our boy played with his tractor in the mud and flapped a finger across his lips.
Because I am a first-time parent and worry is par for the course, I have found myself, on occasion, worrying about our children's language development skills - especially since I can't understand the vast majority of what they say.
To raise my concern of delayed language development yet a notch higher, last week at my doctor's appointment, I was perusing a parenting magazine and came across this nugget:
- Between 6-12 months: A child begins to recognize words for common objects such as ball, juice, dog, understands simple directions; imitates different speech sounds, has one or two words, listens when spoken to.
- Between 12-18 months: Has a vocabulary of five to 20 words, mostly nouns; uses some two-word questions suck as "Where kitty?" or "No juice"; follows simple directions; listens to stories, songs or rhymes.
- Between 18-24 months: Increases vocabulary to 150 to 300 words; begins to use a few common prepositions such as in, on, under, combines nouns and verbs ("Mama go now"); approximately two-thirds of what is said is intelligible.
- Between 24-36 months: Begins to understand opposite meanings such as stop-go, up-down; follows two-step directions such as "Get your shoes and put them in the closet"; about 90% of what is said is intelligible; can verbally relate an experience or activity using two- to three-word sentences.
Yet most times, I'm ready to sit in the mud flapping a finger across my lips.
After spending a lot of time with other children, about the same age as our children, I think that for the most part, our kids are on target with their language development. So either all of our kids are way behind ... or the experts are wrong.
Or, the experts aren't taking in to account the language development in multiple birth children.
Here's the thing: I have noticed that in general, singletons are slightly more advanced in the verbal department. But, there's good reason for that. In our house, there are more 2-year olds than there are adults. As such, our children are learning from each other - in addition to what they are learning from Charlie and I.
Subsequently, they have begun to develop their own language.
But I have yet to meet a child, singleton or not, the same age as our children, that has a vocabulary >300 words and 90% of the words they say are intelligible. Or, maybe their words are intelligible to their parents, but certainly not to the rest of society that hasn't developed a knack for translating toddler jabber.
Even though I may not be able to understand everything that our children say - they understand each other perfectly well and often use the same words to describe an object. For example:
"Uhtme" is monkey.
"Deety" is Carolyn's blanket.
"Ba-ba" is William's blanket.
"Neeny" is Elizabeth's blanket.
"Ooce" is juice.
"Antee" is elephant.
Not to be confused with "ante" which is ant.
"Sisa" is sister.
"Bee-bae" is Elizabeth.
"Twacie" is Gracie (Carolyn)
"Whim" is William.
Do these words, that I understand - but anyone else would not - count as intelligible? Because if so, than perhaps I am not giving our children enough credit.
It has surprised me that William's language is more advanced than the girls. I'm not close to understanding 90% of what he says, but I find it interesting that he will try very hard to enunciate his words. He also tries to repeat everything that he hears and is an exceptional counter.
Carolyn sings the most. Although I only understand perhaps 30% of the words she uses, she can carry a tune better than I, and belts out "Happy Birthday", "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" , "Old MacDonald" and "Wheels On The Bus" like she's been singing them for years.
Elizabeth babbles the most, has the least developed language skills (probably exacerbated by her thumb sucking) and refers to everything small as "baby." Just tonight, she ate a "baby swabey" (strawberry) for dessert after she ate her "baby pita" (pizza). But when you ask her how she's doing, she will give you a "thumbs up" and smile.
Our children's vocabulary consists of a lot more words, even more convoluted that I have yet to decipher, that they'll rattle off throughout the day.
Yesterday, while taking a walk, I watched Elizabeth lean over to Carolyn and say "Zee dee frah jah, oye lah zee." Carolyn then reached in to her pocket and handed her a cookie. Elizabeth smiled and said "Tank you, sisa!"
When I really pay attention and focus on what they are saying, I will catch a gem, here and there. Like last week when I was at Costco and I had all three in the cart. As I was walking up and down the aisles looking for an item, I asked myself outloud, "Where is the applesauce?"
Because I became distracted, I wasn't paying very close attention to their babbling. But when I noticed that all three of them had their hands up-turned, I honed in on what they were saying and caught "Appa Sawce. Whea AWE You?"
And late last week, I overheard William ask the question, clear as day "Who wants ice cweam?" and then join in with the chorus of his sisters, "I DO!!!"
Even though we may not understand everything that they say, they certainly understand everything that we say. If Charlie and I mention that we're contemplating a day at the Zoo or at Sea World, the children will run to find their shoes and coats.
As a result, more and more, we have resorted to spelling things that we don't want for them to understand. If we're planning to go to C-H-U-R-C-H, there is no way we can utter the word without all three of our children going completely boneless and slipping in to a state of massive hysteria.
It's become clear that our spelling skills will be vastly improving as we try to communicate freely, around our kids. This phenomenon of "conveyance of information in code" apparently extends to all parents of young children.
Recently, while out with my fellow triplet moms, all of whom have 2-year olds, one of my friends pointed out that we were among the only women in the crowded restaurant. Another friend looked around and nonchalantly said, "That's because everyone is G-A-Y."
So not only do I think that our 2-year olds communication skills are on track ... I suspect Charlie's and mine are, too.