Tuesday, June 30, 2009
WHAT, YOUR KID CAN'T SAY BYE-BYE?
I'm back from the land of open skies and mega malls! I cozied up to the local Target, ate fast food for the first time in years (Lion's Choice AND Mickey D's! My conscience, she is heavy - but damn those fries were good) and stayed immensely grateful to the Toddler Gods for giving me a boy who loves travel. We stayed in four different places in one week and the kid handled it like a champ, albeit an occasionally screamy one.
I always have mixed emotions about leaving the Midwest. I love, love, looooove my family and nothing brings back those anxiety producing "I'm really a grown up" feelings like airport goodbyes. At 37 you'd think I'd get a grip but leaving my folks still kills me. That said, I have an irrational and unwarranted loathing of the suburbs. I get the appeal - safe, good schools, living spaces that include a washer and dryer - and my Midwestern friends have managed to avoid the dreaded cookie-cutter housing sprawl, opting for older (read: awesome) digs. But driving past the chewed up farmland, watching the historical downtown disentigrate - all those gorgeous limestone buildings, wasted! - just makes me want to cry. I doubt we'll stay in NYC forever but I wish there was a happy, hipster medium between the Big Apple and the (always-in-my) Heartland. I miss seeing sky.
The boy turned a year and a half while we were visiting, which we totally didn't celebrate. (We didn't even see a movie! Free babysitting and no movie!) Aside from the screaming and the fury and the misplaced sense of entitlement, 18 months suits the little guy. He's got a head full of strawberry blond ringlets for which he'll hate me when he's 13, and a big, flashy grin. The walking that I was so worried about 2 months ago? Dude practically runs these days. We're hoping his verbalizations happen the same way. He's still not saying much (in words, anyway. He says PLENTY, babble-wise) so we're having Early Intervention take another peek. It feels awfully Helicopter Parent to hover over every developmental thing but at 18 months you expect the kid to be saying something. He communicates great - who needs words when you can point to what you want? (Or better yet, just go get it.) I've also become an expert on his body language. I can tell by the timing of his freakout whether he wants a drink or a book or to go outside. If I were an observer I'd tell myself to stop giving the kid what he wants in order to force him to talk. Sounds reasonable. Unfortunately that logic holds no sway after 5 minutes of this sanity-blowing bullshit:
Boy, pointing to cup: "Dat! Dat!"
Me: "Juice. Say Juice".
Boy, pointing more vigorously: "Dat! DAT!"
Me: "Juice! J-J-J-Juice. Say Juice. Juuuuuice."
Boy, looking at me like I'm an idiot: "Daaaat! Dat!"
Me: "Juice? You want the juice? Say Juice! Just say Juice!"
Boy, growing red faced: "Dat! Dat, dat, dat, dat!"
Cue frustrated sobbing/flailing/screaming until juice is handed over. Lather, rinse, repeat (and repeat and repeat).
Sometimes he mouthes the word like he wants to say it. I've found him alone in his room, pointing to pictures in a book and announcing them in gibberish. His babble is multi-syllabic and follows conversational tone - it's clear that he thinks he saying something. But the only real words he says are "mama", "dada", and "good", and mama and dada are only said if prompted. ("Say mama!") He knows who I am - if asked, he'll look right at me - and last time he was evaluated he came out tops, cognatively. So why no speakee? I want to be all zen and "children develop at different rates" but there's a15 month old on the playground with a 30 word vocabulary - IN SPANISH, TOO - and damn if his father doesn't live to rub my nose in it. (What, your kid can't say hi? Say hola, Jacob!") It's hard to walk the line between doing what's best for your kid and letting him be who he is...