His talking, is to our ears, what the first drops of rain are to the parched earth, of a drought ridden place. We have waited and waited and waited. Its has been long, and it has been hard. Not just because we wanted to hear him talk, but because of the moments that we doubted our strongest beliefs, and did not know what to think. I have always been a strong believer in the fact that each child has his own developmental curve, and I knew from day one that I did not want to be a competitive mother. And this possibly was the biggest test, of that belief. At three, when the BB was not already talking a dime a dozen, it became worrisome for us. He would utter a few words here, and some there, but there were no constant barrage of talking, or questions. And all around I saw and heard of these cute little things the kids his age were saying, and I waited for him to begin.
Everyone, who knew him in India, would tell me, how he was a late-talker and would drive me nuts when he began, because that is what late talkers usually do, they said, they are like a dam that has burst. And all I could say was that I was eagerly waiting for the day. It was hard to have words like delayed speech mentioned, or being asked, if I had sought professional help, or even having to mention at places, like the day care centre, that he does not really talk yet. It was hard. And then there were times that I almost broke down, and did not know what to do, where I gave in to despair and gloom. Something within me told me, that he was absolutely fine, just taking his own sweet time, and yet sometimes, the fear would grip my heart and leave it cold. The GP and I fortunately alternated in that state, so there was always one to reassure the other, when we fell into a state of despair. But some days were definitely harder than others. Often I would reason things to reassure myself. I knew the reasons, he was not hearing a lot of conversations around him. It was just him and me all day long, and I am not a great conversationalist, when left on my own. We speak two languages at home, and often bilingual children take longer to pick up a language and most importantly the BB's need to talk was very little. He usually has things work out for him, before he needs to ask for it. An advantage of having the mother around all day long, and yet disadvantageous in its own way. I had spoken to his pediatrician in India, about it, and he had not been concerned at all. And he is an amazing doctor, and my biggest concern while leaving India, was not having him around. He was a boon to a paranoid first time mother like me. Besides not believing in bringing up children on supplements and medicines, just like me, he had very practical things to advice, even on the daily care of a baby. And so, he is the one person I could freely discuss my concerns with, without the fear of the existing paranoia of the medical fraternity scaring me. And I had been reassured by his words. I then found a friend, who told me he had not uttered a word till he was all of 5, and even then it took him a while to actually get talking. Today he stands as normal as anyone can be. And these things soothed my mind. And yet there would be occasions when I would read something, or someone would ask a question, regarding his language skills, often innocently, and would make me anxious all over again.
The BB is an amazing child, really. And I think he was tailor made for me, in many many ways. I know I am a biased mother here, but the fact is, that a lot of the problems I hear parents face with their young children, are things I never had to deal with. There were no teething troubles, no weaning hassles, no problem with him being around new people, nor of him getting cranky when someone went away. He is usually a fuss-free child, he has no favourite toys, nor anything that is a security blanket, and he can keep himself happy with very little. No he is not perfect, he does throw tantrums, and gets cranky when sleepy or hungry, and there is a lot, and I mean a real LOT of screaming, for fun happening late evenings. But truth be told, he is an easy child. The only trouble I had, was when there was a phase where he was pushing other kids, and that lasted about all of 2 months. He is smart, and I say that because I have seen the ease with which he uses the laptop, or the GPS, or the i-pod. There is no random punching like kids his age usually do, but more a purposeful using. He knows how to use the microwave, and enjoys being allowed to operate it. He knows his limits and does not try crazy things, that would make me keep him restrained at all times. We never really formally sat down and taught him things but he knows his alphabets, learnt on his own from a wonderful interactive website for kids, called starfall and is learning his numbers now(yes, the microwave.) I would open the starfall site, and cook and clean away to glory, while he stayed busy exploring the various alphabets. Truth be told, he taught the alphabets to himself. And I appreciate every bit of all these things, instead of cribbing about the usual kiddish bouts of stubbornness or slow eating and such things. But the fact that he was still not conversing, did prick me every once in a while. I discussed with a few friends, and I have to say that I was fortunate, that they were so supportive, understanding and reassuring. My worries would melt away after talking to them. And so I continued to wait. In the meanwhile, we shifted gears at home, speaking in only one language, so that its easier for the BB to understand and pick up. And its tough sometimes, when we are so used to speaking in Hinglish pretty much always.
I realised a while back, that being with kids his age at the day care place was really having its effect. Both good and bad. While he was learning to test his limits, with things like pushing other kids, he was also getting more communicative. He was going beyond using his one word expressions of things he needed. And it was just what we had been waiting for. Maybe it was interacting with children his own age, or maybe it was the need to use words to communicate his needs to the people there, or maybe it was time for him to start anyways, I don't know what exactly it was, but something did the trick, or maybe it was a combination of it all. While the GP and I both noticed it happening, neither said a word, for the fear of jinxing it, and so we waited, till one day he came home and began singing a song he had learnt, and though the words were jumbled up, there was the part where he asks, 'What it izz name?' (read - what is your name.) and then goes ' BBeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee'! There has been no looking back ever since fortunately. And in a way I felt it was a test of whether, I can actually stand up for my own beliefs in crunch time, and I am happy that inspite of the moments of terrible fear and anxiety, I maintained my position, and did not panic running from door to door, trying to 'fix' my child. It is true that no one knows a child like does the mother.
I am happy in a way that I was tested, and that it has just strengthened my belief in each child having their own developmental curve. As parents, the GP and I are sure, that we will never be competitive, pushy or expect the BB to live his life our way, all we hope for, is that the BB becomes a good, compassionate human being, everything else is secondary in life. We just want him to be happy and nothing more, and may God give us the strength to always live with that conviction, and never fall prey to the competitive ways of the world. I love my child, wholly and totally, no conditions, ever!
That's the BB on his first train ride ever. Just last month, on The Puffing Billy.
Surprisingly enough, he had never been on a train before. And I think he enjoyed his first time. Also did his first boat ride recently, and had great fun doing that too!