Friday, May 25, 2007

So this toddler walks into a bar and says gahblaslkjdlkjelj!

In my mid-20s, while taking a break from the media business, I was bartending at a local country club, pulling in a (very) modest wage from the twenty-five cent tips so graciously left for me by the elderly golfers and faring better monetarily during the weekend wedding gigs and holiday parties. It wasn't going to make me rich but it was a good job and I enjoyed my time working there.

One afternoon after tending to a boring, though, strangely fascinating reception where an 85 year old woman and her wheelchair-bound 90 year old husband renewed their wedding vows on site (The bride wore her old wedding dress. Oh yes she did.) I had a lull toward the end of my shift. Part of my job was to restock the liquor bottles when the bar got low from the store room in the cold, stone basement, so I grabbed my empty Tanqueray box and headed for the cellar door.

Through poor design the basement door was located directly in the path of the kitchen door. If left open the door would be in the way of the waitresses rushing into the kitchen with their empty trays ready to be filled with dry wedding chicken or baked scrod. So leaving the door open would mean unhappy waitresses, which would mean a stingy payout to me, the humble bartender, at the end of our shift.

As I started down the first few steps with my unwieldy box I realized I had left the door ajar. I took a step up to close it, then turned and - for some reason that still to this day I don't understand - I chose to step not onto the stair in front of me but the step in front of that. The forward momentum propelled me down the rest of the stairs, ass over teakettle, and I landed with a thump on the concrete slab at the bottom. But not before I cracked my head open on the exposed rock wall.

I lay there stunned and bleeding (head wounds bleed like a sumofabeech but thankfully I think I was only knocked out for a few seconds) and afraid to move, until someone heard my cries for help through the now closed door. I laid there until the EMTs put me on a backboard and brought me to the emergency room. And I laid there cracking jokes to put everyone else at ease.

Hi! I could have a broken back, but did you hear the one about the priest, the rabbi and the duck who walked into a bar...

I wasn't trying to be strong, really, it's a defense mechanism. Whenever something gets uncomfortable I make jokes. Usually self-deprecating ones. On that day I think I probably made fun of my clumsiness and my inability to see things spatially, and probably the 12 inch crack in the stone I made with my thick skull.

That poor rock, just minding its own business...

Unfortunately, it's not a trait that I've grown out of and whenever I have to go see the doctor, any doctor for any reason, I'll usually undermine the severity of the situation by poking fun of myself. I make it very hard on myself to get an accurate diagnosis.

To make a long story short, I was fine. I have back problems and the occasional migraine that I didn't experience before, but I healed quickly. However, this story has nothing to do with my health or my back and everything to do with Chicky.

Didn't see that coming, did you? Neither did the rock.

(See?? There I go again! It's a sickness. I can't stop.)

The other day during her two year well visit I told the pediatrician that I was concerned about Chicky's speech development. She's speaking, just not nearly as well as most of her peers.

It's probably nothing, I told the pediatrician. I'm sure she's fine and just taking her own sweet time...

But I can't ignore the red flags popping up whenever I hear Chicky say "Dat" instead of "Cat". My kid can't say "cat". She can say other things, but not "cat"? And she speaks very simply, with very few sentences.

I'm sure we'll have a great laugh about that when Chicky grows up. It will be our little joke - Hey! Wook at dat Dat! Ha! That'll be hilarious when she's 16! Of course, not if she's still talking like that. Not that she would but...

I don't want to seem like an overprotective mom...

I'm sure she's fine...

But...

So there I was, trying to talk myself out of getting help for my daughter by joking about being a neurotic mother who can't stop hovering over her child. Thankfully her pediatrician saw right through me and recommended a call to Early Intervention.

You know, just in case. It's probably nothing, but better safe than sorry.

God help me, if it would have been for me I would have shrugged off the idea of a specialist. I would have poo poo'd the whole idea. It's fine. I'm fine. It's all fine. But for my daughter I can't live like that. I've got to start changing my ways. Chicky is going to see a specialist.

And if it's nothing I won't feel badly for taking up that specialist's time.

Now, if I can just convince myself of that.

Until then I'd better brush up on my knock knock jokes.

47 comments:

sweatpantsmom said...

Hey - I wanted to hear the rest of the one about the priest, the rabbi and the duck...

I'm sure Chicky will be fine. My niece didn't speak in full sentences until she was over 3. Now? She just graduated from college with a 4.0 and you can't shut her up.

cape buffalo said...

EI people rock. You did the right thing.

metro mama said...

Cakes sounds similar. She just turned two and has about two dozen words, but she rarely uses her words. She doesn't say common words, like mommy (her version sounds like buddy). She babbles a lot that is undecipherable.

My doctor told us to try and make her use her words more to get what she wants (we know she wants a cracker when she points at the cupboard, so we get her one). He said to play dumb, and force her to ask for things. He told us to come back in 3 months and revisit.

I'm slightly concerned (I have the number to call for an assessment and may do so), but this is more common than we think. I know two other kids at our drop-in who are similar. GGC talked about it recently.

She'll likely catch up soon, but it can't hurt to look into it.

I'd be very interested to hear how you make out!

Kyla said...

We're in a different situation over here (KayTar sees 5 therapists on a regular basis)...but EI is awesome. And it is always better to ask now and hear the specialist tell you she is fine, than to err on the other side and brush it off and wish you hadn't. Good luck with the eval!

flutter said...

not only will she be fine, but she is fine

Nancy said...

Holy moly on that fall. Sounds like that last step was a doozy. ;-)

I don't know if I've blogged about it much yet (because I know it will turn into a long story, and I haven't had time to write it out lately), but Rosie's been in speech therapy for a couple of months now, and she's made tremendous progress. She's just over 2 1/2 and really didn't talk much at all until we started her in speech. We've pursued early intervention as well. If you're interested in talking about it more, feel free to send me an e-mail and I'll share some of our experiences.

bubandpie said...

Speech therapy can be really useful. It's not so much a matter of figuring out what's wrong, or if anything's wrong, or if the kid will be fine or not fine - it's more a matter of just picking up what you can where you can to support Chicky's language development. Seeing the specialist sounds like a great place to start.

Redneck Mommy said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of Speech Therapy. I actually loved all of Bug's speech sessions...probably because there was no pressure for him to actually SPEAK! Which is a little ironic, but I'm rambling...

(I do that when I'm ... well, I just ALWAYS do it.. don't need an excuse.)

I'm sure the Chicky is right as rain, but I agree with you, better safe than sorry.

If it makes you feel better (and I know it won't) my daughter could only speak about 25 words with a lisp until she was three. Then BAM!!! Speech came and I haven't been able to shut her up since!

Hug, Chicky.

Oh, The Joys said...

My nephew was delayed in talking... he's totally fine now. He did some of the intervention.

What I like best about this post is the way you know yourself.

MotherBumper said...

You are right, I didn't see that coming (just like the rock). Chicky is lucky to have such a smart mom.

And I turn to humor all the time to get through the hard stuff.

Christina said...

Never hurts to play it safe. Although Cordy still can't pronounce some letters, and occasionally still talks gibberish, her language development gets better each day.

I'm sure Chicky will be fine, and you will have peace of mind knowing an expert told you so.

Lawyer Mama said...

Hey it's always better to err on the side of intervention, right? Even just the initial evaluation will give you tons of info about where she really is speech wise. Those EI people manage to get kids to do amazing things.

We were about there with Hollis at one point too & then he suddenly caught up. We noticed that he was pronouncing some of the sounds we thought he couldn't get incorrectly out of habit or laziness.

That self-deprecation thing may be a defense mechanism, but I bet it also makes you funny as hell!

Jenny said...

I think you and I are verrrry similar... the whole time I gave birth I was cracking jokes right and left (in between the screaming)

margalit said...

You have no idea how lucky you are, do you? EI in Massachusetts is AWESOME. Every state interprets the EI mandate differently, and lucky for you (and my kids) EI in MA is about as good as good can get. Both of my kids (preemies) qualified and started as infants. We did speech, OT, and PT for 3 years. EI absolutely and totally saved my daughters life. Some day I'll tell you the whole sordid story, but I have nothing but accolades for EI.

I just wish you could go to the Waltham office, where the most wonderful women in the world work.

Mrs. Chicken said...

I have a dear friend whose first son had to have speech therapy - he just wouldn't talk. They made it through just fine, and he is a chatty almost-four-year-old now. I know Chicky will be just great.

It is hard, though, isn't it? It is always so much easier to make a joke.

Julie Pippert said...

Listen, I err on the side of intervention. I know what people think about that---they tell me---but it's not a regular event. And I am always right that we needed the help, in some fashion, at any rate, it doesn't hurt, ever.

My 2.5 year old can say Ps perfectly plainly, but instead calls Diapers Wipers and Pull-ups Whip-Ups and what's worse is the rest of us are the ones who need help because now that's what we call them too!

(I do the joke thing too. Only in me it's wicked dry humor that often goes amiss.)

WI Mommy said...

Little J was very similar. He would leave the initial consonants off of many words. He spoke a lot, but only I could understand him. We had him evaluated by Birth to Three and he qualified for services. He is doing great now – less because of the speech therapy and more because he finally just hit that stage in his development. If you want to talk at all about the experiences we had, let me know.

jen said...

it's a strange evolution, isn't it. maximizing what we've formerly minimized.

making sure. checking it out. not letting it go.

it's different, this mom gig.

but for what it's worth, M is a bit older, and can't pronounce words and sounds. we've had the same discussions. i know what you mean.

jen said...

it's a strange evolution, isn't it. maximizing what we've formerly minimized.

making sure. checking it out. not letting it go.

it's different, this mom gig.

but for what it's worth, M is a bit older, and can't pronounce words and sounds. we've had the same discussions. i know what you mean.

Blog Antagonist said...

You're following your instincts and that's good. My DO didn't speak until he was three. They pressured me to take him to a speech therapist, but I felt very strongly that he would speak when he wanted to, and additionally that, being the contrary, oppositional creature that he is, a lot of people prodding him to speak would only make him more determined not to. He did speak, finally, in complete, grammatically correct sentences.

If you feel just as strongly that there is something that needs looking into, then you are doing what is in your daughter's best interest. You're a good Mommy.

Chicky will be just fine and dandy. :?)

In the Trenches of Mommyhood said...

We must be living parallel lives. I'm going thru this right now with Baby, who will turn 2 at the end of June. He has barely any words. But he also has 2 older bros who are VERY wordy. Part of me wants to chalk it up to that, but another part of me feels like "what if??". So "summer school" it will be for Baby in July--I'll be calling Early Intervention in Milford after his 2 year checkup.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Things will likely be just fine---I'm on a 'wait list' for an evaluation by a speech therapist for my 3rd----I've avoided going forever, b/c I truly to believe he'll speak well someday (and, heck, he's the 3rd! and a boy! with two chatty older sisters!), but his speech is a mess, so I figure it can't hurt to have a 'pro' tell me what's up. I just hope it's quick. I'm impatient like that.

EE said...

Hey! My 7 year old son has been in speech therapy since age 2.
He did not babble as a baby, nor did he go through the normal progression in speech. I'm so glad we opted for early intervention...don't know where we'd be now!
My daughter on the other hand, just had the normal articulation problems. I remember her saying "titty tat" until about age 4.
I'm sure your little one is fine, but if you're worried you need to have her evaluated...for your peace of mind if for nothing else.

EE said...

Check out this site: http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/not_talk.html

mamatulip said...

My girlfriend's daughter was very much like Chicky...she didn't start really talking until she was closer to three. One day it just kind of exploded and within a week she was stringing together full sentences.

You did the right thing, and I'm proud of you for doing it.

Smiling Mom said...

I'm always afraid that I'm going to do the wrong thing and mess up my kids for life! I totally relate.

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moosh in indy. said...

Good mommy.
the moosh is two and a half and still says "WOOKIT, KILLEY!" instead of, "oh look mother, a feline" My two year old nephew is also here-and if it makes you feel better about how wicked smart your kid is-I can't understand a word that comes out of that kid's mouth.
NOT. A. WORD.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Personally, I prefer dat.

Chicky's just being creative, like her mom. The specialist will likely tell you the same thing.

MrsFortune said...

I cracked my head open once in an eerily similair scenario ... I have people telling me not to worry about J's slow physical development all the time but I'd really like to have an expert tell me not to worry, y'know? I hope your mind rests at ease soon, if not just because I'm not really a fan of knock-knock jokes.

Elizabeth said...

Ryan did a little EI when he was around four, because he spoke really quickly and his words ran together. We did things like have him use a drinking straw to blow a cotton ball across the table (strengthens mouth muscles). I know it's hard to ask a doctor to refer you to a specialist, like you don't want to be a bother or anything, but it's good that you are doing it.

Oh, and my friend's son couldn't say the "k" sound as a toddler, so he called their kitty a "titty". Oh yes he did.

Surviving Motherhood said...

I can't believe she got re-married in the same dress! Oh my god!

Stephanie said...

I am proud of you. Really. My youngest nephew had the same problem. It turned out it was his hearing. We didn't know it because he appeared to hear, and he could respond to music, but his eustatian tubes were full, so it sounded to him like everyone was under water.

Good luck. This can only be good. It's better to know and fix things now.

Bon said...

i've been having some of the same internal conversations in my own head, wondering if the fact that O doesn't say anything with specific meaning yet is some kinda red flag, or if i'm being overprotective and neurotic, and when i should actually mention this to a doctor because i know EI works wonders in many situations...

but i hate to be a bother. and i worry about crying wolf. and hell, he's only thirteen months.

so i'm waiting a little longer. but i hope, if no words emerge within the next couple of months - even just mama would carry me a long way - that i have the courage you had to up and bring it to my doc, even if i do have to joke my way through the conversation.

hmmm...did you hear the one about the duck and the rabbi who couldn't say mama?

Her Bad Mother said...

She'll be fine, whatever the speshulist sez. And you'll be fine, too - BECAUSE you can laugh and joke and ease your heart's way through whatever seriousness is thrown at you.

It's a strength, lady. never forget.

Lisa said...

She'll be great. And kudos to you for being her advocate and being proactive.

My son wasn't able to say much more than Ma-eee by the time he was three. When I showed concern alot of people would blow me off and I felt like I was some crazy, overprotective mom. Turns out, he did have some speech issues but at such a young age, their brains are like plastic. So even if there is something askew it can be corrected very easily with a bit of speech therapy.

In a few short weeks of therapy, he was actually saying a few words. In a few months, he wouldn't shut up!

So whether she needs any extra attention or not, don't worry. She'll be great because she's got a wonderful mommy who loves her very much.

Mad Hatter said...

Ahhh, I do that too. Laugh and shrug my way through awkward, powerless situations. I'm glad the doctor gave you the referral. It will set your mind at ease and give you a new way to look at the situation.

mo-wo said...

It is such a challenge to give over... To admit that we want eeevverrrything for our little ones.

But they deserve it.

-- and good luck with the chit chat. speech delay can be a nuisance for parents more than anything when your two year old is developing that red, shiny, new will and volition. I figure you'll be looking back on this and laughing (or crying) a year from now when she won't shut up. I think my kid told me 3 times tonight 'bad choice!' precious.

Pattie said...

Mrs C,
Wow, that fall....nasty! I was cringing the whole time just thinking about it. But, hey! You were a bartender! I was too. That must explain our great love of wine. Anyway, bartending was one of my all time favorite jobs *LOL*

On the Chicky note, my son didn't speak clearly or at all for that matter, until he was about 2 &1/2. But, if there is a speech problem, at least they'll catch it early. It's so hard to tell sometimes when they are so young.

dana said...

When Dawson was much younger (he's nearly 3), probably 18 months old, I was worried because he wasn't talking at all. Not a single word.

I never took him to a specialist, I never even told the doctor I was worried. Luckily he turned out to be a late bloomer and now he never shuts up. But I wonder what I would have done if he never started to talk. I was too scared to say anything for fear of being a crazy mom.

I'm so glad you had to the courage to say something. I promised myself I'd never be afraid of these situations again.

Major Bedhead said...

I swore I commented on this post. Weird.

Anyway. O had EI and it was fantastic. If you're in the town I think you're in (begins with an S? Easta Wistah? Spag's?), then you'll be in the same system she was in. They really helped her, as much as they could, given that her delays were due to an undiagnosed case of type 1 diabetes. But even with that thrown into the mix, it was a godsend for her.

PunditMom said...

I'm with HBM -- humor is a good thing, even if it's a defense mechanism. I recognize that in me, too!

mothergoosemouse said...

I made the same call last week myself. And will be writing about the accompanying angst very soon.

gingajoy said...

it *is* a strength!

also--your child is speaking at age two??? I think my boy was still grunting at that age, and now he's all, like, "would you please pass the Reisling..."

(heh)

kittenpie said...

You know, early intervention is a good move, just in case. I once taught daycare, and had a three-year-old boy who went from no speech to only slightly lagging in diction in about 6 months. So even if it is anything, they can do great stuff. Good for you for being on the ball!

PinkPowerSuit.com said...

I. Do. The same. Thing! And I never thought before about how I could be undermining myself. Learned somethin' today. Thanks!

Re: the speech. My son was slow to speech but then he started reading and read his first sentence at his third birthday party. Turns out that he has non-verbal reasoning disability. So, he's really, really gifted in one area. Then, disabled in another. Because he's so smart otherwise, we didn't think anything of the slow speech. Especially since slow speech doesn't usually mean much. I'm not suggesting your child has this. I don't know her enough obviously. Just sharin'.

Damselfly said...

...and when Chicky is 21, you can laugh about it even more as you pour her first (heh!) drink. No harm in seeing a specialist. You're a good mom, looking out for your little one and teaching her jokes.

Kris said...

Yeah, that's how I was with Ben. By the time he turned six, no one could understand a word he said, and I was all, "What? Speech therapy? Really?" In my defense, the public school speech therapist said he was fine. And yet, I had to interpret for him every where we went. It was his pediatrician who finally knocked me over the head and said, "get him into private speech therapy!" He's great now, just a year later. Best of luck with Chicky! I'm sure she'll do great.