Can You Say “Bye-Bye?” “Doggie?” “Milk?”
In a word…no.
Lila had her 15 month check-up on Monday, and, as per usual, the doctor ran through a string of questions about her mental and physical progress: Is she waving? Pointing to things? Does she understand what “no” means? Yes, yes, and yes she understands what no means, although it never keeps her from doing what we’re telling her not to do.
Is she saying simple words? Mama…dada…bye bye…dog?
She says mama (and often says mamamamama for everything). And she points…a LOT. And she said doggie once. And she said Elmo once. And my mother swears that she said “night night” once.
So we’re speculating that maybe she’s just trying out every single word once, and once she’s done that, she’ll start talking for real?
Just kidding. Kind of.
Our doctor wasn’t concerned. He told us to start using the pacifier for only bedtime and naptime, and that will free up her mouth for a lot more babbling and word-learning during the awake hours. He also said that, as with everything in child development, there’s a huge range of “normal”—some kids are saying 25 words clearly by 15 months, and some kids aren’t talking at all. If she still isn’t talking at 18 months, then we’ll have something to potentially worry about, but until then, he basically told us not to worry about it at all.
Easier said that done.
I’ll admit something: it *really* bugs me that Lila isn’t talking yet.
I know, I know—every child progresses at their own pace, it isn’t that big of a deal, yada, yada, yada. You know who tells you that the most? The parents whose kids are really advanced at whatever “skill” it is your child is late in developing.
I know, because I was one of them. I’ll admit something else: I *loved it* that Lila was an early crawler/walker. Parents might not want to admit it, but I’ll say it: it feels really good when your kid reaches a milestone early. And it feels shitty if it seems like maybe they’re falling behind.
It was easy for me to say to other parents, “Oh, don’t worry—I’m sure _____ will walk soon! They all move at their own pace, and he/she will walk eventually. They won’t go to college crawling!” It was easy for me, because my own child was already on the go—crawling, walking, now running. Again, I’ll admit: I loved it.
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, my parenting friends (both online and real-life) tell me not to worry about Lila’s lack of verbal development—she’ll talk eventually! they chirp, as their own 15 month-olds babble on about balls, dogs, balloons, bubbles. 15 month-olds should work on their social skills—they really have no concept of what other people might want to talk about.
And the fact is, I know those parents are right. I know our doctor is right, too—this is nothing to be concerned about, at all. Still, it’s hard. I think there’s a lot of subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) competition in the world of parenting—my child is doing this; oh, your child isn’t doing that yet?!—and it’s hard not to get sucked into that game. Most of my real-life parenting friends are actually wonderful at not playing that game—what a relief! But I’ll admit—I’ve had to stop reading certain blogs, simply because they started to have too much of a “LOOK AT MY WONDERCHILD!!!!!”-type vibe.
I know we all think our kids are special—and they are. But they are not all geniuses. They are not all future Olympic athletes. And they are not all going to win Pulitzers because of their ability to say “Where’s Mama?” at 16 months.
There are milestones that Lila reached “quickly.” There are milestones that she reached “slowly.” And the reason I use quotations for both of those is because, the truth is, whenever she reaches each one is really just right– for her.
I can type that and know that it’s right, but it’s taking me a while longer to really accept it. Hopefully in time!
xx—have a great day!