The children are bursting with sweetness, all cute sayings and doings and new tricks. Bean-girl has learned to confidently use the computer mouse, and now she is a full-fledged gaming geek. I now know what it’s like to live with a teenager. Or maybe I have a hint of how she feels when I’m absorbed at the computer, reading blogs. This past weekend Bean-girl spent nearly every free moment at the computer, playing a Diego-and-dinosaur game. She’s got a fierce competitive streak. She couldn’t let the game go, because she had to advance through the levels to assemble as many dinosaur skeletons as possible. Somehow she even figured out how to click on the screen showing the highest scores earned; she took great interest in learning her highest scoring games (which really aren’t that high, actually). Today the gaming fever seemed to at last abate a bit, and I had the pleasure of interacting a little with my four-year old before she went to bed. She played hide-and-seek with me, and she and Legume padded about together after their bath, wearing matching fuzzy pink robes.
And Legume? Legume is learning to talk. When she was just a little over one she learned to say, “ball.” (Or rather, “baa.”). And there she paused for a very long time. She was soaking words in, and she understood perfectly what was said to her. But would she open her mouth to say any words in response? She even stopped saying her first word, “ball.” She was our silent little enigma.
Neither I nor husband really worried about it. But when I mentioned her lack of speech to the pediatrician at a check-up, the doctor saw fit to call the county early childhood development specialists on us. A specialist came out to the house to play with Baby Legume, and told us to our great surprise that Legume’s expressive speech (how well she talks) was months behind—our 18-month old’s speech patterns were at the level of a 9 or 10 month old, the specialist claimed! On the other hand, Legume could point correctly to all the animals and objects in a picture book, and could even point correctly to depicted actions (a child sleeping versus a child eating or running). So Legume’s “receptive speech” (how well she understands speech) was above age level, and closer to a two-year old’s.
“Is she always this quiet?” the specialist asked of Legume. “Or is she just so quiet because I’m here?”
“No,” I said resignedly. “She’s always this quiet.”
Fast forward a month and a half. We are living with an echo that can’t be turned off. Legume repeats everything that we say. “Stop!” she cries, echoing her father as he tells Bean-girl to stop doing something. “Red!” she echoes as someone mentions the color of an object. “Socks!” she says, as we pull socks on her pudgy feet. Her diction still needs work, and “bear,” “ball,” and “book” are distinguished mostly by context. But she can be understood. “BEAH,” she cries, showing me a picture of a bear in a book. “BEAH, BEAH!” she shoves the book in my face. Yes, yes, Baby Legume, it’s a bear. “BEAH!!” she insists, now practically shoving the book up my nose for emphasis.
Last week a second county speech therapist came to our house for a follow-up evaluation of Baby Legume. The verdict? Her expressive speech now falls within “normal” standards.
“I told you not to worry,” says Husband.