Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Chatter Box

Suddenly ready to tell us
exactly what's on her mind!
Mae has suddenly started talking, words bubbling off her lips after two and a half years of squealing and chirping.  I knew that she could talk... because I used to hear her over the monitor, talking to her bear when she was supposed to be taking a nap.  But for whatever reason she didn't feel like blessing us with her verbal thoughts, maybe because she did a pretty good job letting us know in other ways exactly what was on her mind.

This week, however, something just clicked and within half an hour she'd said four words.  Yesterday she started putting words together:  "Hot food!  Hot food!"  "Boots on!  Mama!  Boots on!"  and then, bringing a book over that asked about colors she said:  "purplepinkredgreen" as if it were on big word, saying the colors that were on the page in order.  I announced that Mae Bae would get a bean added to the bean jar for her new words, meaning that her big sister is now enthusiastically cheering her on as well.

I'll admit, I'm grateful for the words, mostly because it might stop the prying comments about the fact that both of our girls have both started talking later than the average.  I remember reading somewhere that children who are very physical often start talking later... and I thought, "aha!"  That's it.  Mae took her first steps at ten months.  She regularly scales vertical surfaces just for the heck of it.  She loves to run and jump and dive and crash... and words... until this week, just didn't seem to be that high on her list of priorities.

Sadie was a late talker too and when she began to talk there were letters that she struggled with.  Last year I made a list of those letters and was dismayed when I counted them.  13.  Half the letters in the alphabet.

We'd practice letters.  During the summer and the move things were so crazy that we didn't do any formal practice.  Now we read poetry together every day, and she repeats the words after me.  She's mastered ten of those thirteen letters during our reading time and she can say the others... we're just still working on putting them into words.

"I think we should do Spanish with her."  I told Paul jokingly, after our daily lesson one day.  What foreign language to begin with has long been a topic of conversation in our house.  "She says her l's like y's and her v's like b's."

I know there are people we've known who have vocally doubted our decision not to seek outside help... but my thought was always this:  As long as I'm seeing steady improvement we'll keep on as we are.  If I wasn't, I would ask for help.  I have greatly, greatly appreciated the practical advice I've received around here (that's how Sadie learned to say Q!). I have a harder time appreciating comments from people who have watched my child run around with other kids, out of breath and giggling, who then decide to offer their two cents about how something is severely wrong since they can't understand her (when they've never actually talked to her or in other cases, when they have but are clearly hard of hearing).  Yes, it is something we're working on.  Yes there has been major improvement.  And yes, she's a little girl with a little girl voice and being able to hear that voice does aid in understanding what she's saying.

I guess this is just another area, along with how many kids we're going to have and how they'll be educated, where I've gotten to practice not saying exactly what I was thinking in the name of good manners.

So I'm pleased with how things are going along.  I wonder how much Mae's deciding to talk had to do with the fact that about a week ago Sadie started saying:  "Mae doesn't talk.  Angelina Ballerina's sister talks." with a dramatic sigh.

Now to start our school day!  I can't wait to see what Mae is going to come up with today!


  1. Clearly, Sadie is making progress with her pronunciation (sometime around age 4 she should master the "V" sound; "L" is one of the most difficult for children and often isn't mastered until around age 7.)

    I would keep on with what you're doing and, if she still has trouble when she's 7, you can then seek the help of a speech pathologist. (My younger daughter has a degree in speech and communication disorders and will receive her doctorate in audiology next year; she says that reading and modeling pronunciation is one of the very best things you can do for and with a child... for so many reasons!)

    Mae Bae evidently hasn't felt the need to speak until now; children with older siblings often speak later, as they have no reason, if the older child is doing a lot of talking. Then, it's often as if a dam has burst!


  2. The hearing thing really is an issue with these late talkers. I could understand my daughter pretty thoroughly at 3+, but my father-in-law couldn't totally understand her until she was well past 5. He was hard of hearing. Now I struggle to understand my 3 and a half year old granddaughter because I'm now hard of hearing myself. Granted she doesn't have the crystal clear, perfect articulation my son had, but her articulation really does fall within the normal range (just like her mommy's did). When I read the things that Sadie says, it's quite clear that her syntax, vocabulary, and logical thinking skills are just fine. Our experience has been that articulation skills do eventually catch up. My inlaws sent their first to a speech therapist, and declined to do the same with their second, yet their articulation problems cleared up around the same age.

  3. Thanks for making me chuckle, as our youngest's "TR" sounds comes out as an "F". And of course, he loves to talk about our truck :-). I have just gotten accustomed to repeating what he says in the form of a question IMMEDIATELY after he says it - it cuts down on the surprised and scornful looks. He's getting better, but still not perfect. I guess at least be glad people don't think your kids are cussing like a sailor!!

  4. Sometimes there is no pleasing people. My son is/was the opposite: very verbal, but he was a late crawler and walker (and at 22 months he's still very cautious about physical tasks). Thankfully most of the comments we've received are in the "meant to be helpful but aren't" category, instead of being malicious (why do some people like to be so malicious about *children* of all things?)

    My husband and I were both the same way, and he's still developing within the "normal" range, just toward the later end. But we have such cookie cutter expectations of children that any deviation from the norm is a deficiency (even if gifted in one area or another - ever see a school curriculum?)

  5. YEAH of Mae talking!!! It is always so sweet to hear their little voices!

    I generally don't worry about these things if the mom isn't worried.

    It is funny this came up now though. My dad, just the other day, said he has a hard time understanding my 3 1/2 year old and asked if I'd mind if he helped her pronunciation when he did have trouble understanding her. I have no objection as long as it is done without making her feel like there is anything wrong with her, which I know he wouldn't do. But it caught me off guard just because I rarely have a hard time understanding her. Now, I am with her all day, every day, but the only time I have trouble is when she gets excited and speaks a mile a minute. Trying to listen as an outsider, I can see where she can be hard to understand when she blurs words together. I am usually listening for purely practical reasons…. Do I know what she needs/wants? Not to make sure every word is annunciated clearly. I really do think it will naturally improve with time, but I figure we can work on improving her pronunciation over time too.


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