Finding your voice, in your own time

DSC02197I’m listening to my youngest — now a teenager — COUGH and I’m praying he won’t develop the laryngitis I suffered from recently (see “Silence in the Man Cave” part 1, part 2 and part 3). If there’s anyone who genuinely enjoys talking as much as his network-news-correspondent mom, it’s my youngest.

I remember when he was about 5 or 6, on Saturday mornings, the door to our bedroom would creak open. Only a small hand reaching up to the doorknob visible.

I’d roll over to my husband and whisper, “the following will be a video game update.”

A tuft of feather-like hair would pop up near the bedside as a wide-eyed, PJ-clad boy would say, “MOM! Dad! Do you know what?! Ditty Kong just…” and he’d excitedly relay the latest video-game adventure before skipping out the door to play more with his brother. (We were rather strict about when and what video games the boys were allowed to play, so “game day” was a big deal.)

“The PRECEDING,” I’d say to my husband, “was a video game update.”

As much as it made us smile, the excited, often-ramblingly-detailed report was also a bit of a relief.IMG_2750

My youngest didn’t talk when he was very little, even though his older brother seemed to speak in full sentences by the age of 2-and-a-half or three. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure “Mom, what’s for dinner,” was the first thing my oldest son said.

The younger one … well, he kind of chuckled, babbled and squeaked out sentences that only his brother was able to decipher. Sometimes.

This lead to the inevitable questions from well-meaning family members, educators and friends: “What’s WRONG? Shouldn’t he have reached a MILESTONE … in talking … I mean so people can UNDERSTAND him, now?”

My son’s bright eyes and quick smile indicated a sharp kid. But the language part just wasn’t there, yet.

There was some hand-wringing, speech therapy and preschool … but I really think the language part of the puzzle came together for my youngest when it was right … FOR HIM. And it did come. He hasn’t stopped talking since. Seriously.

And in retrospect, I think those childhood “milestones” are really more like pebbles. Ones that your child might kick down the road a bit, because it’s not the right time for him or her, to grasp it yet. You might need to pick the pebble up for him; help him hold and explore it. But sometimes it just needs to wash ashore when your child is ready to grab it. And you’ll be there to make sure he does.

This has been an actual conversation in the Man Cave. What’s the Man Cave? Read this.

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