Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The little guy had his speech evaluation yesterday. The verdict? Probably good. Unfortunately, Early Intervention's definition of "good" means that he qualifies for services. Nothing's certain yet - numbers must be crunched - but the evaluator's (off the record) info pointed towards slow. She was really nice and gave a lot of tips, most of which I've been making a conscious effort to avoid up to this point. Truncated sentences? ("Go up? Eat food? Yum!") Disregarding proper words? ("Baba" versus "bottle") Ending words in "y" sounds? (Doggy instead of dog) Check and check.

It's not that I'm anti-kid speak (I want to penis-kick hipsters who introduce themselves formally to newborns) but I've naturally gravitated towards talking to Owen like a regular person. 'Scuze me while I break out the golf clap but I'm really proud that he scores so high cognitively and I think part of that has to do with the fact that I've always spoken to him in full sentences. (Of course he also doesn't talk which probably cancels out the cognitive.) Point being, it feels like a step backwards to give directions like "Block in?" instead of my usual, "Hey, come help me put the blocks in the green box." I think repeating words often is really helpful and I'm happy to sing and read and make animal sounds but the rest of it? Feeling suuuper resistant. I know I should be grateful for the aid but my gut really just wants us to leave him alone. I find myself Googling things "genius+late talker" to reassure myself that being behind the curve is fine. I'm under no delusion that Owen's an Einstein. But I wouldn't mind if he were the next Bill Irwin. (Both super late talkers!)

At 19 months Owen has turned into Harold and the Purple Crayon. Thank god Crayola makes washable ones, that's all I have to say. I think we're finally past the eating-of-the-crayons phase (which lasted waaaay too long. Have you seen what it does to poop?) but we're stymied at Only-On-Paper. "Only on paper" is a tough thing to make clear to a little guy. He's having a hell of a time differentiating between being allowed to color on paper but not books (which are, ahem, paper), or on paper but not the (flat, smooth, white) dining table. It's not all confusion - there's also some definite boundary pushing. He'll start on the paper then slooooooowly inch the crayons towards the off-limits area, watching to see if I'm paying attention. Needless to say, this drives me to drink. I know that this would all be solved if I was actively engaged every moment of every day but here's where I bust out the tiny font: sometimes I make him chase the cat so I can spend a few more minutes on Facebook. Yes, (sometimes! occasionally!) I would rather be on the internet than play with my son. 'Fess up: what supposedly fun activities do you absolutely loathe?

Speaking of ignoring our offspring, my friend Colleen made a really interesting point the other day:

"I wonder if our parents read all this unsolicited parenting advice, and I wonder if it bothered them as much as it bothers us? My mom thinks it's kind of stupid to worry about all that stuff, said it was much easier when we were kids b/c kids were kids and parents were parents, and they all had our own jobs to do, and nobody fussed at her if she spent time cleaning house instead of trying to find quality time with all four of us every day."

Dude, yes! What happened to kids being kids and parents being parents? Something has totally shifted, right? I don't recall my mom ever sitting down to play with me, and I say that with absolutely no resentment. She was my mom. She had grown up stuff to do. Why the sudden change?

Final note: Trying to find an affordable, family-friendly vacation spot close to New York? Can't be done. I know we can't afford it and it's ridiculous to spend money we don't have on something as frivolous as mental health and blah and blah but seriously, we haven't had a vacation since our honeymoon. And that was 5 years ago. I have spent the last 3 days scouring the intenet for something resembling a vacay. No dice. Everything's either super wonderful but anti-kid or super kid but anti-parent. Oh, and that "recession" thing everyone's been talking about? Nobody's mentioned it to the resort community! At Mohonk Mountain House, prices started at $730 PER NIGHT. And all 265 rooms were almost booked! Buttermilk Falls refused to budge at $460 per night, and that didn't even include meals. (Plus no children allowed in the main house. Or in the pool. Or at dinner. For reals.) If anybody has any suggestions (we've already looked into Great Wolf Lodge. Can't get there from here) we're all ears.


Rob said...

Adult friendly + kid friendly = Cruise.

All cruise lines have babysitting/daycare services, usually and entire deck is dedicated to occupying children of all ages.

Also cruises have come WAY down in price since the downturn and they leave from NY (probably walking distance from your place!).

A nice 4-5 day getaway with the family would not break the bank, and everyone would be happy.

EBPitcher said...

To ease your mind - a friend of mine had a child at 18 months that maybe said 3 words. His doctor wasn't concerned. "Wait until 24 months and we'll talk", he said. And by 24 months, the boy had really expanded his vocabulary. And now at 3.5 you can't shut him up. Be thankful he's easing you into it, very slowly. I've also heard boys take a bit longer to speak because they are too busy being boys. And for the record, talking doesn't solve all communication issues. My boy has plenty of words, but still doesn't always use them. He'd rather whine. I think he knows it gets on my nerves!

As for a vacation, try the state or national parks. Most have some kind of accomodations for pretty reasonable. I just scored a cabin in a state park in OH that sleeps 6 for $105 a night and this is NOT sleeping on cots and mosquito netting!

Hang in there!

Dan G said...

Mohonk and Buttermilk Falls are notoriously fancy-pants. Those two examples do not sum up the getaway options in the NYC area. What the hell crowd are you running with?

Check out Cape May, NJ. Lake George. The Poconos. Finger Lakes. Beacon, NY. I don't know a lot of specifics about any, but I know people without a lot of money who've gone to these places.

But definitely stop looking at MostExpensiveGetawaysNYC.com.

Colleen said...

On the speech thing--I've never regretted going with my gut instincts in parenting. Ever. You know your child better than anyone else, and if you think going to two word sentences is a regression, you're probably right on.

How far is Niagara Falls/Lake Erie from NYC? The US side wasn't too expensive when we were there--we just walked over to visit the Canadian side, their hotels looked fancier but were pricier too. We had a great time there and in Erie, PA. All of the Great Lakes are awesome. And when the boy is older, I wholeheartedly recommend Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Beautiful surroundings for the BEST AMUSEMENT PARK EVER!!!!

Tor said...

I think the short simple sentences are difficult for you because words are your thing. You feel the bastardisation of your craft when you mangle it for his sake. You see language as an artform, but he (for now) needs it to be like simple computer programming (very simple & specific), until he groks that and is ready for the next step.

You don't expect a baby to sit down and eat a 3 course meal with cutlery right from the start, they have to work their way up as their body and body control develops. But Chef's probably find it difficult and kinda offensive to make bland purees with little flavour for months on end too, and then get it spat out at them anyway.

I bet you already do the "truncated sentences" thing naturally anyway, when communication is really important. If you see your kid about to touch a hot oven do you say "NO! HOT!" or "Please don't touch that oven dear, it might burn your hand"? You know it's more effective at this age, and you can do it, and he WILL grow out of needing it. Until he becomes a teenager LOL.

I kinda feel like I am training a pet, but seeing as the smarter breeds of dogs and birds have the mental capacity of 3-year-old kids, then that kinda makes sense (I think my kid is currently more jack russel than german shepherd). When talking to my son I often think of that Far Side cartoon of what we say to dogs vs what they hear - "blah blah blah Ginger! blah blah blah".

...Sharon said...

You know your kid is bright, has a voice and will use it when he's ready. Compromise your parenting technique perhaps an hour a day focusing on the simple game of "what's this?". But I think you would confuse him if you did a complete 180 with how you talk to him.

Hey, just heard Brendan's taking the family to Disney World in September. They're renting a cabin in the Disney campgrounds. (I wonder if real Disney characters live in those woods?) It's not really camping - a maid comes in each day to make the beds AND does the dishes.

Surprise them!..!!

Tor said...

Doh it sounds like I mean to treat your kid like he is stupid, but that's not what I meant. You know he is getting the info out of the regular sentences, but the short&sweet ones are easier for him to grab hold of to use back for himself. (not that it's working for us at all...but anyway)

Ali said...

Great suggestions, guys! Shorter sentences make much more sense to me now. (Doesn't feel so much like dumbing down.) I'll give it a go.

Tor said...

Ooh I just discovered another benefit to using short sentences, and always using the same ones for the same situations - makes it easier for you to recognise it when your kid does try to say it!

Previously I'd always tell what he was trying to say (if I could) either by him signing along with his "speech" (eg. the sound "noo" means about 6 different words, most with different signs) or by circumstances (ie. educated guessing).

He's just started using a few words/phrases on his own, instead of just occasionally copying us or using words that he has made up or that have signs to give me a hint, and the ones I am recognising it is more from the pattern of sound/tone/syllables. If I didn't have a commonly used phrase to match it to then I'd have thought it was just babble. That far side dog talk goes both ways.

Now to try and get him to say the phrases I WANT him to use, USEFUL phrases to actually communicate, not the accidental ones I don't even realise I am saying a hundred times a day. ("There we go!" was what he has starting "saying" after doing something LOL.)