OK – paranoid parent klaxon – scuse me a mo while I have one of them infrequent FREAK OUTS about how my child is developing even though I KNOW children develop at different rates cos EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT innit, but still – lemme vent – just for a sec – then I’ll stop. OK? OK.
So on FB today I see a status update about a 2 year old (Moo is 20 months) speaking, by which I mean PROPER TALKING, in sentences and everyfink. And a friend t’other day was recounting a tale about how their child – just a month older than Moo – was starting to form sentences. Also, a few of Moo’s little friends are beginning some of that proper talk shizzle. And there was that girl in the park – the almost 2 year old – who said to me ‘I like mud, it’s exciting’. FFS.
Moo can say ‘cakey’. And ‘no’. And other random wordage. But no sentences. Not yet.
I am not one of those people who will map their child’s development using one of those chart thingies, cos, as I’ve already ascertained, EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT. But, I can’t help but feel vaguely antsy about Moo’s speech and how it’s coming along. Or NOT coming along, as it were.
I’m sure there’s some gubbins somewhere that says kids Moo’s age should be learning 3000 new words a day or something, but I can’t be looking at that stuff or my head might explode. What I worry about is that I’m not doing the right things – I repeat words back to her, I simplify phrases, and encourage her to answer questions (‘What would you like to eat?’ ‘Cakey’ ‘Would you like a sandwich?’ ‘No’) and still fret that it’s not good enough. And then OF COURSE I compare her progress with her peers and freak myself out even more.
My daughter is amazing in every way, innit. And all them children that can speak in sentences already are also amazing. But really, what I’m trying to say here without coming across as a total cunt, is that I want my child to be MORE AMAZING than EVERY OTHER CHILD. Short of enrolling her in Mensa or, erm, forcibly hexing all children to not speak ever, that’s not going to happen. Not while her vocabulary consists mainly of sweet baked products and emphatic negatives, anyway.
I’m being daft, right? Moo’s just fine, yeah?
What else can I do to make Moo talk proper?
‘Moo, pick up the crayons, thank you.’
‘Moo, can you get your shoes please?’
‘No no no.’
‘It’s not time for a snack, would you like some water?’
‘NO no no no NO.’
‘Let’s go out, go and grab your coat.’
‘Do you want to hold this? [her cup]‘
‘Can you pick up the crayons?’
‘No no no no – ‘
‘Please pick up the crayons.’
‘ – no no no no no – ‘
‘Look, help me pick up the crayons?’
‘ – no no no no NO no NO NO – ‘
‘PICK UP THE SODDING CRAYONS.’
‘ – NO.’
‘Do you want some dinner?’
‘Brilliant. Shall we read a book?’
‘No no no.’
‘Do you want Cbeebies?’
[desperate] ‘Fine. Bathtime then.’
‘No no no no no no no!’
‘And then bedtime.’
‘No no no no NO NO NO NO NO – ‘
[bath and bedtime continue regardless]
[later, over the monitor, in her cot] ‘No no no no nooooo nooooooo nooo no no…’
Repeat verbatim the following day.
D’you know what post I got today? It was shit. Not ACTUAL shit. My neighbours don’t hate me that much. But farking disappointing anyway. Worse than a bill: a reminder that I should have a smear test soon. Yeah. Hoo-farking-ray. A smear test? Really? Should I? Thanks for that. Is Benedict Cumberbatch going to insert the speculum and swab my inner lady bits? No? Then I just ain’t interested, sunshine.
Remember when getting post was GREAT? It used to be. Before you were a grown-up, getting post was the BEST THING EVER. Now I dread it. I hate it. I absolutely prefer getting emails. Immediate, usually in an abundance so I feel hugely popular even though most of them are spam, and easily deleted. Same with texts. I LOVE getting texts. A good text is infinitely preferable to talking to people. Talking to people on the phone makes me nervous. Sometimes I don’t hear what they say. This is because people mumble, and I’ve just decided mumblers are going on my list of bastards. ENUNCIATE, you farking cunts.
Keeping in touch in this day and age is a blessing and a curse. So, like a blurse? You’ve got Facebook with the thousands of friends you never bloody see or hear from, and you probably wouldn’t piss on them if they were smouldering on your front lawn anyway. And there’s Twitter, with the thousands of followers you have, who you form insanely tight bonds with within a matter of days, who you’ll NEVER meet but who you feel are total SOULMATES already. It’s mentalistic. If I had to cull both accounts I’d probably end up with a handful from each that I would actually like to squeeze and tongue in real life. Which, as you know by now, is my way of showing approval, the MoVo way.
So yeah: tweet me, text me, email me. Or send a postcard. I’ve had some lovely postcards in recent times. Anything that requires the written word to communicate. Anything that I can hide behind, and edit, and use to great effect. And not have to really speak to anyone, cos I suspect I’m quite squeaky, and disappointingly humdrum.
There’s only very, very few people I would talk to on the telephone, out of choice. They know who they are.
What’s your preferred method of communication? Answers scrawled on a photo of BenCum and then shoved through my box, please. JOKE. Leave ‘em electronically somewhere on this page, y’all.
Yesterday Moo said her name. Not ‘Moo’ – for that is not her actual name – but her name, all three syllables of it, right in front of me, like a feckin’ genius.
She’s only fifteen months old. I am under no illusions: this impromptu name-saying was a one-off. Immediately afterwards she was back to her usual ‘digga-digga-digga’ despite me excitedly yelling ‘SAY YOUR NAME AGAIN’ and thrusting a video camera in her face. But for a while I fantasised about how this could be the start of a giddily quick ascent into full language capability.
Yes, I know that’s a bit presumptuous of me. But being stuck at home all last week while Moo was poorly kind of left me starved for adult conversation. Imagine if they could talk… just think what we might discuss… all the hot topics… like the heated debate about which Cbeebies presenter is the most annoying? Or just exactly how does Baby Jake’s mum have 10 children? And what the crapping hell on earth is Squiglet exactly?
Actually it would probably go more like this:
Me: OK, Moo, so now you can talk, what shall we talk about?
Moo: Get me a biscuit.
Me: Sure, I will in a minute, I think you deserve one cos, y’know, this is the fastest that a baby has learnt to speak in, like, the whole of history! So I reckon you can have as many biscuits as you want, and I’ll get them for you, but first – wow this is so exciting – is there anything you particularly want to chat about?
Moo: Shut the fuck up and get me a fucking biscuit, woman.
Me: Right, OK, I see you’ve also developed my bad language habits. That’s fine, we can work on that, I’m not too bothered at this very early stage that you’re just swearing at me and making demands, once you’re a bit more, uh, confident with what you’re saying, I’m sure that sort of language will go. You just need to know how to, er, express yourself properly, without the swearing and aggression. That’s perfectly OK, I look forward to sharing that experience with you, very soon. But in the meantime, let’s just have a nice, friendly conversation, about whatever you want! Anything. C’mon, what shall we talk about?
Moo: Jeezus, just put the fucking TV on.
Me: Fine. Whatever you want. [switches on TV]
So yeah… thinking I might discourage that whole speaking thing for a bit longer. Just until I can curb any undesirable verbal tics.
But having someone to talk to is good. More than good. I would go so far as to say it’s GOOOOOD. Being on your own with a baby, day in, day out, can challenge the keenest of minds and the staunchest of souls. I’m lucky – I had a saviour on the end of a phone line who talked me down from a metaphorical ledge of insanity, and NO, I don’t mean the Samaritans – but sometimes it’s harder to phone someone and just ask for a chat, than it is to go out and find company.
Anyway. I’ve had days where I talk to walls, and inanimate objects. The stairway bannister is a keen raconteur. The standard lamp frequently cracks me up with his anecdotes about the rug. I’m obviously mental, but if you can’t leave the house, what else to do?
Thank feck for Twitter.
What do you do, if starved of grown-up conversation? Escape online, or make the acquaintance of your bookcase?
Oh to be a baby linguist. Who knows what the feck they’re saying? In that strange hinterland between baby noise and actual speech, I have a child who is desperate to let me know something, and I cannot decipher it. So, this week, Moo, I promise…
…to try and not get frustrated when you are ‘telling’ me something and I have NO IDEA what it is. I will be more patient with you, and work on giving you words to learn so that you can tell me what you want (though I suspect it’s just ‘cake’).
Got a burning itch to make promises you’re unlikely to keep?? Then head over to the delectable Mum of One blog and link up to her devilish meme!