Monday, July 21, 2008

If English doesn’t work…

One of the reasons we’ve been working so hard on signing is the frustration L has at meal time. For example, at supper on Sunday, I fed the girls strawberries, grapes, and pineapple. Usually pineapple is too strong a flavor of L, so I didn’t put any on her plate. But, she saw her sisters’ plates and saw she didn’t get something they had. She fussed and hollered and turned at the kitchen and pointed. I was tired, I was frustrated, and I thought she just didn’t want to eat or wanted down. Ten minutes later, I finally figured out that she wanted pineapple. Pine-app-le. Three syllables that would make our mealtime a lot easier.

And when it comes to drinks, she can tell us she’s thirsty (pointing to her mouth with one finger), and she can say jooooo for juice or sign milk (squeezing her fingers like milking a cow.) But water, we’ve been stumped. Now, let me digress by saying that we also using Spanglish randomly in our house, or more accurately, Dora-Spanish. Water is as often agua as it is water. And, apparently, “agua” is easier for L to say than “water” because, thank the Lord, she started saying AGUA last night! One less frustration point to overcome.

Then, to add to her cuteness, she started saying “okiedokie” and “e-i-e-i-o” this weekend. She’ll sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm, or at least parts of it. She’s got the EIEIO down, and can do the quack-quack of a duck. If we say doggie, we’ll get some sort of wowowow with a leg-slap (sign for dog) to go with it. Cow’s say meeeee in her world, even though she says “two” clear as day. So, L’s version of Old MacDonald is as unique as she is…and just as entertaining.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A girl named Sue

I don't know if I've ever told you this, but L was ahead of her age, in regards to communication. Last year this time, when she was about 14 months, she would say her own name clear as can be. Every day, when I tucked her in for naptime or bedtime, we walk past a wall of portraits, including her own. She would always name each one, pointing to herself and saying her name. She hasn't said it since January 9.

This month, our assignment was to work on the "S" sound. Our speech gal also recommended that we make it part of our routine, like before bed we work on a sound or after we brush our teeth we make a sound. So, I started out by playing a game every time I changed her diaper. I'd ask L, "What's the snake say? The snake says ssssss." Then, as I made the ssss sound, my hand would weave like a snake to her belly and tickle her. By the second day, L was making the sssss sound for me, so that I would tickle her.

We also practiced saying Sissie, which is the only name L will call M. (I think she can say M's name, since she can make all the sounds and never said it pre-seizure. I think she just chooses not to.)

And then, two nights ago, while I was putting L to bed, I asked her if she could say "Sue". Sue is her middle name, one she hears a lot. The first two attempts were "dooo" and then she stopped, took a breathe, and slowly said sssssssue. Lots of clapping and cheering and smiles later, she's said it a few times since then.

Yay! A new word! And a pretty big word at that. She cannot remember how to say her first name, but at least she has her middle name now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Daddy means fun, mommy means what?

Why is it that daddy always gets the fun side of things? Even though J stays home with the girls during the summer, even though he is their primary caregiver and disciplinary while I'm at work, they still associate daddy with the fun stuff and me with the work.

But on the (somewhat) bright side, I also get the serious discussions already. K asked me about boyfriend/girlfriend just a couple weeks ago. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I calmly answered her questions:
Yes, some kids your age talk about having boyfriends, but it's not the same
thing as high school or grown-up boyfriends. What's the difference? In grade school, it just means that you think they are really neat and fun to play with, and there should be no kissing or touching. It's probably better right now to just be friends with the boys rather than call it boyfriend/girlfriend. And please, if you have any more questions, come ask me! That's what I'm here for!
When I recapped the conversation with J and asked him if he wanted to talk to her about it a little more, his mouth said "no, it sounds like you got it covered" but his eyes said "please oh please don't make me talk about that with her! Not yet! NOOOOOOO!" heehee did we get here already! And any advice on what to say and what NOT to say? Did I screw anything up, based on what you read above? Advice appreciated!!!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Big Day for L, Big Day for Us

Today L told us about how she felt.

This morning when she woke up, L told me she loved me. She didn’t say it; she’s a long ways from that. But she signed it for the first time without me initiating it or showing it to her. It melted my heart.

Then tonight, she was crying after I put her to bed. I went back upstairs to take care of her and I asked her what was wrong. She put her first fingers together (“hurt”), pointed to her teeth, and then clenched her hand and pulled it away from her face (“angry”). I said, somewhat shocked, “Your teeth hurt and that makes you mad?” She nodded, and any stamina I had at making her cry it out flew out the window. A dose of ibuprofen and a 15-minute rocking session, and all was better.

And, not as monumental, but today at lunch she wanted another desert breadstick. I told her she needed to ask for more, so she touched her fingers together ("more") then used one hand to 'butter' the other ("toast"). Not only is she using her signs, but she's expanding their meaning to get her point across.

My baby is (re)learning how to communicate!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Open mouth, insert foot

Why is it that strangers always find the one feature about your child and draw attention to it? For L 's first year and a half, we struggled with her growth. She just kept falling off the growth charts in height and weight. So what did we hear all the time? ohhh, look at that tiny little thing! She is awfully petite, isn't she? Are you sure you're feeding her enough? It's not limited to L ...with K, people would ask at least once a week, "Can't she walk? How old is she? Shouldn't she be walking by now?" I mean, seriously. Is it any of their business?!

I thought I'd grown callussed to these brainless, seemingly-benign-but-hurtful comments, until this week. The girl at the gas station said about L, "Wow, she really is a quiet one, isn't she?" I just smiled. "I mean, I've never heard a girl her age so quiet." Again, I said nothing, but nodded. "Why is she so quiet? Is she tired? Is she alright?" Seriously, woman. Do you want the full explanation! But no, I just said, "she doesn't say a lot." And left it at that.

What was I supposed to say? She used to talk, but then she had this nasty cluster of seizures that broke her speech. She says lots of sounds, but no end consanants. She jabbers, but only in vowels. She's really learning signs quickly and is now saying two-word phrases in signs. But you won't know what she's saying, because YOU don't read signs. This week she said "ungry" which we think meant hungry but could have meant angry, because she was mad that supper wasn't ready yet. Either way, we were just excited to hear the -ngr- sound, because that's a pretty advanced sound. But no, she won't say it now. It was a one-day thing. But the speech therapist says in two years, you probably won't even know she ever was in speech, she'll be talking so well. And maybe, just maybe, at that point, people like you won't say anything about her to make her (or myself) more self-conscious.

And I think that's what bothers me. L listens like a 3-year-old. She understands a thousand times more than she can say. She knows that the girl at the gas station was asking why she was different. And she seemed sad and extra quiet the rest of the day. And that, ladies and gents, makes me angry. Angry at the situation, angry at unintentional people. Just angry. And frustrated. But after that fact, I calmed down. And I think how lucky we are that this is the only stumbling block L needs to overcome right now.

Oh, and we weren't the only victim of thoughtless comments. My SIL is feeling guilty about the weight her newborn, R, lost during the first two weeks, when nursing seemed to be going well but in fact there just wasn't any milk. R went from 7 pounds 7 ounces, to 5 pounds 14 ounces. She's gained it all back now and is thriving. But when we walked in a convenience store, the clerk gushed about how tiny she was. "Oh, she's just itsy bitsy! How old did you say she was? She's just a wee thing! I've never seen one so petite!" Seriously, one was bad enough, but going on and on like that. ick.

So, for future reference, you're best off limiting comments about infants and toddlers to "what a cute baby" or in the case of not-so-cute babies, "what a cute outfit" or "what beautiful eyes." And leave it at that. Please. Pass it on.