Talking? Please Shut-Up.

Previously, the "issue" was Archer's walking late and now, it seems everyone has an opinion on the fact that Archer is in no hurry to "use his words"/speak English. (He can speak Mandarin fluently, btw.) Our pediatrician suggested that if he still isn't speaking in the next couple of months to "take him to someone."

To someone.

Someone who specializes in toddler gibberish?

Someone who can teach Archer that a cheerio is not a ca-ca (cracker)?

Well, thank GOD. Phew!

I can be sarcastic now. But at the time, all I kept thinking was, "Fuck you. No. Nonononono."

This is where I have a real problem with people. Especially doctors. Doctors who judge children based on text-books and month-by-month guides. Who know nothing of the children they treat. (How could they? They have thousands of patients. Who has the time?) Doctors who pass out pie graphs and write-up prescriptions and send children to "specialists" and then gag them with pills to take the edge off. Doctors who need notes to remember names and give immunization without explanation. Even when asked.

When did we need so many specialists? Doctors who run us around like a High School track team?

Clearly Archer is a child who takes his sweet time. He was in no rush to walk and quite possibly crawled miles at a time.

And now?

"Does he talk?"

"Not really. He can say Cracker, though. And 'eh' means no."

"Oh. How old is he?"

"Eighteen months."

"Well boys are slower than girls."

Becoming a parent has turned me into a somewhat of a misanthrope, mainly because so many people subscribe to by-the-book parenting, by-the-book living, by-the-Book EVERYTHING. Bo-ring. Fru-strating. Maddening.

I may have associated with irresponsible lunatics in my previous life but at least they lived. And days like today I miss them. All the freaks and beggars and anarchists and whores aren't all wrong in their approach. They certainly don't live their lives by any book, (besides this one.) They certainly would rather strip naked and streak down the boulevard than take a cardio-strip class at Crunch. And good for them.

But I digress, sometimes books are good. SOMETIMES. But not all the time. Not every day. And just because your week-by-week guide or "Hip Mama" instruction manual says it should be so, does not mean it will be so. Not while I'm the mommy.

The most unsettling part of being a parent are the doctors. And the books. The fucking books. And the people who talk and talk and TALK about stuff that doesn't matter. About products and books and bullshit and milestones and Jesus Christ! Where is the joy in parenting, I ask you? What about the fun? Why do they have to grow up by Tuesday? Because the book says so!

Maybe the most unsettling part of being a parent is caring. About all of this. After all, everyone is trying. Right? Hold on, lemme look it up. I'm supposed to look it up.

Remember that part in Good Will Hunting where the guy from Harvard rattles off Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States like it's his own? In a nut shell, that's how I perceive most parents.

I have a happy child. He's healthy and in no rush to be friends with your honor student. So lay off. Lay off him and lay off me and go hide in your manuals and text books and studies and let us play. We have lego-castles to build and ponds to splash in:

Yeah, that' right. He's a kid. And he'll talk when he's ready.

Now, if only certain people would take lessons from Archer and refrain from using their words. That would be nice.



L | 2:51 AM

My son started walking before 11 months. We thought he must be "profoundly gifted". Now at 21 months he walks very well, but doesn't say a word that we can understand... other than "no", which is funny because the main language in our home is not English (I blame the Teletubbies). Since we don't have trouble communicating, I don't worry. And I don't read books. And I will grow a thick skin for his next "developmental checkup" and not worry about what they'll tell me. Einstein apparently didn't start talking until he was 3...

Blog Antagonist | 4:22 AM

Doctors certainly serve a purpose. BUT...I don't think medical training is a substitute for maternal instinct. Follow yours. Diminutive One did not say a word until he was 3. They suggested he "see someone", but I resisted for a lot of reasons I won't go into here. The point is, one day when he was 3, he opened his mouth and started speaking. In complete, grammatically correct sentences.

I knew he could. If he wanted to. And that has set the precedent for his whole life. If he wants to, he can do anything. But you simply cannot force him to do anything he is uninterested in doing. And, the more you try to coax and cajole, the more stalwart he becomes in his refusal.

Archer's got it going on upstairs. The talking thing will come.

Anonymous | 4:35 AM

** Cheering (silently). Who needs all that noise anyway?


Amy | 4:54 AM

Dude, he's only 18 months. If he's not talking by 3 or 4, then you might worry. But 18 months? Who says dude needs to conform so early?

Unknown | 5:21 AM

Agreeing with you and everyone else... Lydia is the same way - she does things in her own damn time. Like there is a problem with being different or independent or something...

Anonymous | 6:47 AM

Aw, your little guy will begin talking when he's good and ready, and I'm sure it will be soon enough. As the aunt of a 20 month-old who took her first steps at 7.5 months (!), I think I expected her to be quoting Shakespeare by now....of course, she's developing her language normally, and it quickly became clear to me that all toddlers develop at their own pace - relatively. However, that pace does usually fall within a certain "normal" range.

Please trust that none of the doctors mean to scare you (other parents in the park, who knows their intentions!) - perhaps their presentation could use a little work, though. As a training child psychologist, I can see the importance in balancing the "books" with appropriate bedside manner. But the books do exist for a reason. *Most* have been published because they have something important to say. Many, however, do not, but hopefully your trained doctors are not using results of that research to treat your child. The truth is, for example, the Autistic Spectrum Disorders can be most effectively treated when they are diagnosed during toddlerhood - between the ages of 1 and 3 - and many parents do wait for their children to develop at their own pace, miss this sensitive period, and look back, wishing someone would have told them. Many of these children will not respond to treatment at all if it is not begun before the age of 5. This is not to scare you and say that Archer has an ASD - he is certainly still developing normally for an 18 month-old. But I think your doctors would be doing you, and all parents, a disservice to NOT tell you what "normal" ranges are for you to look out for with your child. There does come a point when the focus should not be on "children developing at their own pace" and should be on "could there be a problem here, and if so, what could we do about it - prevention-wise or intervention-wise - in case there is?" Thousands of parents wish that they had had a doctor tell them this.

Off to cram for my final in 3 hours that tests my knowledge of all of these developmental milestones! Take care, and by the way, it is clear Archer is very happy by those adorable pictures :)

Anonymous | 6:58 AM

My nephew is three and a half and was also in no hurry to talk. He walked late, talked late, potty trained late... Granted, now his talking is still pretty hard to understand, but he just took his sweet time. And he's just fine.

Go with your gut. Experts can only play the averages. You know Archer better than anyone else, and that you can trust your own judgment instead of second guessing is a huge asset.

Chicky Chicky Baby | 7:08 AM

Amen Sistah. The talking issue drives me crazy. Literally. I freaked out in a post just a few weeks ago about my daughter's lack of words at almost 20 months. She does seem to be getting a few more words but she's still a bit behind.

But you hit upon one of the aspects of toddler speech that really burns my buns: The boy vs. girl time frame. Boys walk faster and girls talk earlier so each boy and girl MUST CONFORM to these stereotypes. It's all enough to drive a mother batty. But I'm learning to relax about it. Bah. Conformity is boring. Individuality is inspiring.

foodiemama | 7:58 AM

yeah, that dr. really needs a big ol' f-you. i am thankful my ped is extrememly chill about most things. if i hear of one more mom running out to a "specialist" for some kind of speech therapy for their 1 1/2-2 yr old i am going to choke them...way to give a child insecurities. it seems to be the thing to "do" these days and i hate it.
i get sooo infuriated when people/other moms/dr.'s lump all kids together like they are not just small little people with their own minds, each with their own developments. (i could go off on another rant here so i will stop...grandpa and others have been giving us some grief cause the kid is in love with the wizard of oz and has some fine ass ruby slippers and LOVES them.)

Run ANC | 8:03 AM

Sometimes I think the books are complete crap. If boys are supposed to walk faster, then we were way behind. The Boy would not take a step until 16 months. We knew he could, but chose not to for some unknown reason. Then I went away for a couple of hours, left him with his Nana and he was walking when I came back. I think the same thing happens with talking. It happens when it happens.

Anonymous | 8:18 AM

Arch will talk when he is ready for sure. Maybe is is doing what he did with walking and doing some stealth talking while you and daddy are not looking. You never know. I am sure he will get to it in his own sweet time. All of thoes baby time lines are just made for compeditive parents anyway. If you know your child, you know what is best for him. I am sure he will be bursting with words in him own time.

metro mama | 8:25 AM

I've been thinking about writing about this. As you know, Cakes is the same age as Archer. She's not talking either, except for a few words. Most requests are made with the pointing and screaming/whining method. I'm not worried either though-she's too busy climing everything and doing puzzles. Speech will come.

Stupid books.

Anonymous | 8:33 AM

You have the right attitude. Children grow up at different rates and what matters is that they have a fun childhood with loving and supporting parents, not that they are in sync with every book on the planet.

Anonymous | 8:59 AM

I know how you feel. Last winter my then 20 month old wasn't saying much. My "well meaning" MIL - who's BIL happens to be a speech pathologist- had DS "looked at" a PARTY! BIL said he could benefit from some "help." soon-to-be 3 year a gab Meister. One day the words just rolled out....hubby and I would look at each other and say "did you teach him that?" The other would shake their head. Just day Archer will come to you with a world of words....and all at once- Mommy? Where do bugs go potty? Where do rocks come from? LOOK.OUT.

Keri | 9:39 AM

Well said! Your reasoning is also the reason why we want to homeschool. We don't want Lochlan to deal with all the pressures from kids, teachers and admin, especially standardized testing, which is so NOT standard. Bleh.

Anonymous | 9:56 AM

Here here!

When people like to brag about how gifted they think their babies are (they all, aren't they?) - I sometimes like to tell them about my brother and I. My brother talked early, walked early, hit all the milestones quickly - we thought "wow, he is going to be a genius." No. Didn't happen. AT ALL. Then there is me. I was very late for all milestones, I didn't talk well for a long time, my parents thought I was "slow." Then I hit school, and I thrived. I'm no genius, but I'm evidence that how quickly you hit milestones as a kid can literally mean SQUAT! And my brother is evidence that even hitting them quickly can literally mean SQUAT!

So bah on all those that think differently! :-)

Anonymous | 10:26 AM

Friends of mine have 3 kids. The oldest girl didn't start speaking in any kind of clear English until she was almost 3 and now she's an A student (9 yrs old and speaks perfectly well); their youngest son is almost a little over 3 and can communicate just fine with the very few words he knows and is starting to slowly use real words. He's obviously intelligent, just hasn't found his voice yet. Archer will be totally fine and don't even mind those silly doctors that don't understand the uniqueness of children! Best of luck, your son is absolutely adorable!

mad muthas | 10:36 AM

you know that average and normal are not the same thing. there's no such thing as an average child, yet they're all judged against an artificial criterion of what 'average' is. archer looks a perfectly normal, gorgeous, adorable, bright little boy - but i bet he isn't the least bit average!

Chris | 11:13 AM

We're in the same boat. Zed didn't crawl until he was 11 months and didn't walk until he was 17 months. He's almost 22 months and barely speaks. He says a few words, but ONLY when HE wants to. But he babbles constantly.

It doesn't help that we have his sister to compare him to who was speaking in complete sentences at his age.

Hang in there. We are.

Anonymous | 12:29 PM

aMEN sister. the whole push to reach random goals is so ridiculous. my cousin is married to a czech woman and their brilliant 8-yr-old son, who speaks both english and czech, didn't say a word until he was almost 3! now he talks like a college student, in 2 languages.

also, my twins were hardly speaking at 2. and now? they will. not. shut. up. whenever we're out in public and someone notices the incessant wall of words they create i get a look that say "jeezeree -- you must be exhausted!"

and another thing! why isn't listening a benchmarkable skill? my 4-yr-olds talk all the time but man, you'd think we filled their ears with floam for their apparent incapability to hear one word we say.

and finally. can you and archer communicate? okay then.

Momo | 12:43 PM

I think you should confront his silence mood with courage and enthusiasm...not being worry ( you don't seem to be anyway). Your way of being surrounds and speaks to your son...he is connected to your language somehow! So, you can talk...he will do it too.

Anonymous | 12:52 PM

im sry to say this, but the parents who lash out like this are the ones with kids who are "behind"...then again what do i know? im thirteen

B | 1:29 PM

You know Archer better than anyone. Including his doc.

That said, It never does harm to see "someone" and I can emphathize deeply with this post. I remember having to go see "someone" when my daughter was 18 months because she was But in the end, I lived through it. My daughter won't even remember it and her ped got off my ass.

The flip side is also to follow your gut and see "someone" only if you think you need to. As I read through the chicken pox link I nearly died. I was VERY pregnant with my second when my first was due for that vaccine. I decline. My doc asked why. My response was that I have had the chicken pox TWICE and should she get it I was not about to be 1. hugely pregnant and risk getting them from her or 2. have a toddler and a new born with the chicken pox. I was given the "very unlikely" speech. I still said no and my doc looked at me if I was a certifiable loon.

Jessica | 1:30 PM

I couldn't agree with you more - my old boss had a son who rarely spoke until age 4; many doctors had suspected he was autistic but hell to the no...he just spoke when he was good and ready!

ewe are here | 1:41 PM

My 19 month old isn't saying a whole heck of a lot compared to a lot of his peers. But guess what? He clearly understands everything we tell him and follows instructions. So we're not worried.

Your doctor sounds, well, less than helpful with his advice.

Leigh C. | 3:01 PM

Be happy you don't live in New York. Speech therapy for little ones is so "in" over there that I couldn't help but think that the doctors were in cahoots with the speech therapists.

One mom told me that she had been worried about her 20 month old daughter, because she wasn't saying much. She took her in for hearing tests and the like, and was still a tad worried.

I asked her when she herself talked, and she said, "Well, my mother tells me it wasn't until I was over two years old."

"See? It's genetic! Before you know it, you'll be wishing she would just shuuut uuup!!" I said.

I'm so glad the mommy smiled. the next few times I talked with her, she seemed more relaxed about it, too.

Hold your head up high, madam. This looks like one happy, healthy kid, and the first full sentence outta his mouth will most likely be, "Don't WORRY so much, Mom!!!"

Her Bad Mother | 6:38 PM

Dude. Who really WANTS their kid to speak, when it comes right down to it? WonderBaby has mastered NO, and it's already driving me crazy.


daionara | 6:51 PM

My daughter was slow to talk. Heck until she was about 6-8 months old we thought maybe something was wrong. The only time she made noise of any kind is when she was crying (unless you count the constant state of rasberries she blew when she was happy). But she walked REALLY early, which was a pain. I think she was around 3 before her talking really took off. She's 13 now and I can't shut her up!

Emery Jo | 7:39 PM

Ezra is 22 months old and all he says is "No." And, kindof "ball."

Thanks for this post. You reminded me of what I already knew but somehow forgot.

Being a parent doesn't fit into a tidy graph- no matter how hard we shove.

Anonymous | 8:37 PM

Sounds like changing pediatricians is in order. I stayed with my son's first pediatrician for the first 6 months of his life, just cause, ya' know...I thought she knew him and all. Well, little did I know! I made the switch after talking to a few moms and I could not be more happy with the choice to leave! It's nice to talk to a doc that sees eye to eye with you. It makes all the difference! My son is 16 months now & he don't say much but he sure can scream if he wants to!
PS Archer is adorable & your blog is great!
PSS Saw a pic of you in
Can't wait!!

Unknown | 10:23 PM

I read somewhere that Einstein didn't talk until age 3? Shove that in thier stupid pie holes! you should tell your doctor he's an ass because a good doctor will tell you the "guidelines for development" are just that- guidelines- just like you say here.

Anonymous | 10:53 PM

Hm... I'm not exactly playing devil's advocate here, because I don't entirely disagree with you. Still, I seem to be the voice of dissent in the comments.

While I don't subscribe to the theory of "OMG we have to get this child to see someone RIGHT NOW," it doesn't sound like your doctor was entirely off the wall to me, either.

As long as he keeps progressing steadily, I agree with you that there's not a reason to worry. If he doesn't show any inclination to produce more words over the next few months, though, I think I agree with your doctor that an evaluation wouldn't hurt. But that's all it would be, an evaluation. All 50 states offer free evaluations (and free therapy for children who qualify) through some type of Early Intervention program. If you have anything you're concerned about, you can have an evaluation done. If the evaluation shows an area in which your child could use help, therapy will be offered. And at this age, from the child's perspective, the therapy is just more playtime, with an adult's attention focused strictly on him for that period of time.

(For the record, my son's just recently started therapy. I waited until he was two to have him evaluated. He's having a grand time playing with playdough and trying to say the names of animals with "Miss P." Not that I can't or don't do similar activities with him, but the therapist has insights I don't. OTOH, I can offer her insights into what works for my particular child, too.)

Mom101 | 6:11 AM

I'd ditch that doctor. My sense is he didn't give you the whole story - "taking him to someone" is generally more to ease any parental worries than to diagnose something troubling. I've got friends' kids who didn't speak until nearly 2 years and they're fine now. And if he does need, "someone?" So be it. You'll deal with it and that will be that. And he's still an awesome kid with his own strong personality that cannot be changed. Just the way he should be.

Anonymous | 9:35 AM

I've been coming up on a post about this, too! My son Chance is 21 months and is not talking either. And frankly, I think some kids don't talk as part of their "negativism" stage. Instead of throwing tantrums or saying "no" to everything, I swear Chance gives me looks like, "You can make me do a lot of things, lady, but you can't make me talk. Now give me more juice," but all he actually says is "eh".

Fortunately, my doc is pretty mellow about it. I asked if I needed to worry if he wasn't talking by two and she said, "not necessarily". I'm not going to worry about it. One of the smartest kids I know didn't talk until he was three!

Anonymous | 10:17 AM

I just wanted to make a comment from a parent of a child who actually needed/needs speech therapy. When my son was about Archer's age, he actually had some words and by age 2, he was putting 2 words together, but it was a struggle. I was feeling like you, oh, he'll be fine. Well, it turns out he wasn't "quite" fine. He has a motor planning issue that makes speech acquisition very difficult and at age 5 he still receives services.

I think the HARDEST part of this whole thing wasn't that I had to face the fact that he needed therapy, it was all the "well-meaning" comments/questions that even complete strangers would say to me or the parents who in their roundabout way wanted to compare him to their child. Even harder about all this is that my son is extremely bright - he's an early reader/speller, etc. but b/c of his speech delay people just assume the worst and tend to turn off of him b/c he can't respond "typically".

All children are different, some will struggle and need services (and turn out fine anyway) and others will just blossom. I think what I've learned the most about this whole process is you know your child the best and you'll do what is best regardless of what others have to say about the subject. If I listened to everything anyone ever thought about my son, I'd probably be a basket case right now.

p.s. really enjoy your blog.

Anonymous | 12:54 PM

Phewsh, he's only eighteen months! Jack barely sadi anything (in English :) before he was two. Mama and boobie was about it. Now he is talking in 4-6 word sentences. I figure that as long as they are communicating with you through play and other actions the rest will come in time.
By the way Archer is a cutie patootie, that first pis is darling!

Anonymous | 12:56 PM

Aack PIC I meant pic.
Uhh...and said, not "sadi"

Anonymous | 3:45 PM

All pediatricians are supposed to do an autism screening at 18 mo. I would be more concerned if the ped *didn't* do this screening. Talking isn't the be-all and end-all of development, but slow speech development is sometimes a concern as is "losing" speech after it is acquired. Does he point? Does he look at something when you say "Look!" and point? Does he look up at you when you say his name? Is he starting to pretend play (talk on phone, pour juice in a cup, feed a doll)? Will he copy your facial expressions? If he's doing this things, you don't need to be concerned.

kittenpie | 5:08 PM

You know, Pumpkinpie wasn't speaking much until about 18 months, I think, but it all came in fast and furious, and I lost track quickly of her new words, and phrases came right after, and now she talks like a little adult at 2.5, so I say don't sweat it yet.

Anonymous | 7:38 PM

I've so enjoyed your blog since I found it a couple weeks ago - thanks for sharing you with all of us!

To the point: I AM one of those "someones" you send your child to and I have to say that most of the time, mama knows best and doctors know squat, especially when it comes to language. You KNOW when your child is really sick (hopefully that hasn't happened yet, but when/if it does, you'll KNOW!), you KNOW when your child is faking it, you KNOW when your child needs more help than you can give. Whether or not you deny your mama voice or delay acting on it is another thing altogther, but you still KNOW.

And really, the most important thing at 18 months is that Archer understands you. If he doesn't get his shoes when you ask him to, or if you say you're going to the store and he doesn't go running to the door to go with you...then you have a problem. The second most important thing is that he's not frustrated trying to get you to understand what he wants. If he is...then you need help too (but a little baby sign goes a LONG way in that department...teach MORE, ALL DONE, DRINK, and EAT and you've got just about everything covered!).

Sorry for the novel....KB

Kristen | 11:09 AM

Archer is lucky to have a mom like you. You let him be himself, you let him grow into things the way he needs to.

Anonymous | 10:02 PM

Not to worry. My (now 8 year old) didn't really start talking til closer to 24 months. Our wonderful ped told me it was completely normal. He talks fine now...

Anonymous | 3:47 AM

Seriously, people with opinions on OTHER people's kids (when not asked for) SUCK. Flip 'em the bird and be done with it. Enjoy your sandpits and legos and toddler-babble while you can, cause soon he'll turn around and be talking in 'proper sentances' and he won't shutup and you'll be crying for a minute's silence (or toddler babble). My oldest was talking in perfect sentences by 11 months. Crazy early. My 2nd? Well... she didn't talk properly until her third birthday. And now... she won't SHUTUP. At all. Never, ever, ever.

So... all that to say, long live the toddle gibberish!

Cristina | 9:41 PM

Well-said! (no pun intended)

My son is 18 mos too and he isn't talking much either, but I'm not too worried yet. After all, Einstein didn't talk until he was 3 right?

Kara | 12:13 PM

I wanted to leave a comment on babble but- psch- too complicated.

just wanted to say that my 7 year old busted a gut at your archer vid. and asked to watch it again.

as a developmental/learning specialist-type (one of the people who sees and works with kids who have learning and devel. issues), i was going to say you might want to have a specialist see him JUST TO SEE, because, you know, seeing can't hurt even though nobody knows him better than you do and blah blah blah and then i decided it really isn't any of my business and moved on.

then is saw the video.

dude TOTALLY talks. what's the problem again?