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April 03, 2003

Growing Pains


My son, who is pushing two, has been a slow “talker.” While he seems to understand a very wide range of things said to him, he has communicated his wants and needs by a combination of the occasional word, sign language, head gestures, grunts, etc. This hasn’t concerned me a great deal; I think by the time you’re on your third child your capacity for “developmental panic” has been largely eroded away. In short, I assumed (since there was nothing wrong with his hearing) he’d talk when he was good and ready, and not before.

The last week or so all the synapses started firing and he’s starting to blaze away, stringing together sentences, mastering new words in a single bound, you name it. And while the speed and power of his learning curve are exhilarating, I’m going to miss my little non-talker. I mean, everybody talks; he was unique. He was in no way isolated; you always knew what he wanted or thought about things, at least enough to communicate the essentials of desire, fear, anger, hunger, love, etc. And he could even carry on conversations with himself, in a grumbling stream of nonsense syllables, when he was vaguely dissatisfied with the state of the universe. (It was like listening to someone read the symbols used in comic strips for swear words: #&*+@%!!!) And when he did use his little arsenal of real words, he could get unusual effects out of them; he had a way of stretching out the word “no” into “noooooooooo” which made a simple negative into a gently melancholic song of regret.

Maybe someday he’ll write poetry or a latter-day version of the Gettysburg Address. But I’m going to be nostalgic for the days when our primary form of communication was non-verbal. I guess after nearly 50 years of blabbing away myself, what I suddenly find is that speech seems oddly overrated.



posted by Friedrich at April 3, 2003


I didn't talk until I was five. And I've been making up for lost time ever since.

Posted by: Aaron Haspel on April 3, 2003 8:59 PM

My younger son did the same thing yours just has, and I understand the feeling. What makes James unique is that he doesn't just ask why--that's too simple. Instead he says, "But why, Daddy? But why?"

Posted by: Will Duquette on April 3, 2003 11:06 PM

I have a son who called me "Daddy" until he was well into his three's. It was his universal word for parental unit. Boy, did I get strange looks in the check out line at the grocery store! He had all sorts of other really cool words like "snort" for cow and "leafer" for tree. They stamped that out of him in school....Sigh.


Posted by: Deb on April 4, 2003 10:00 AM

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