A day or two ago (I lose track of time when I'm not working or going to school and today was my first day back at work after four straight days off), I was reading http://www.mommywantsvodka.com/ I absolutely adore Aunt Becky and I read her every day, but what I'm trying, in my own meandering way, to get to is that a post that she wrote about understanding her adorable boy's babble made me remember when I couldn't understand Jo.
Before I even met the idiot, I realised that one day, I might have children. I had already done a lot of babysitting and had even been the primary caretaker for my sister's spawn for a stint. Somehow, I didn't think that real life experience with other people's children had made me ready for my own. So I did what I always did when I was unsure about something. I checked an armload of books out of the library.
I had my oldest, Mila, first (which normally the way it happens) , she was a dream baby. She slept through the night by the time that she was a month old. She hardly cried. She was the perfect little baby that no one believes really exists. She even potty trained herself the Christmas before Jo was born. There was never even a pull up stage with her.
Then Jo was born. Mila adored her from the day she was born and even changed Jo's diapers. Yes, I let my toddler change her newborn sister's diaper. I know I'm evil. Jo was not an easy baby. She was full of energy. Lucky for me, Jo also adored her big sister. Mila was more help than most of the adults around me (except for my mom, of course) and the two grew close.
Jo was always in a hurry to do everything and she hit most of her milestones early. I think she was just trying to be just like her sister.
One of the things she did early was talk. This would turn out to be not a great thing later on. Now, because I had read all those books and continued to read more books and researched things online, I knew that I should be able to understand about 50% of everything my girls said by the time they were two and 75% by the time they were three. With Mila, I understood about 75% of what she said when she was two and 99% of what she said when she was three. (I now only understand about 80% of what she says, but that's because she tends to speak Japanese.)
It was not the same with Jo. When she was two I only understood maybe one-third of what she said. I was concerned and brought it up with her doctor. Since she was doing great otherwise, he thought it might just be a delay and we would see how she was doing at her three year checkup. A year flew by and the redhead joined our family. I took Jo for her three year checkup. I only understood about half of what she said at this point. It was very frustrating for her. I'd constantly have to ask her to repeat herself and try my hardest to decipher from the words I could understand what she wanted or needed. Having had a speech problem when I was little, I completely empathised with her.
Her doctor asked to her to say a few things, asked her a few questions and gave us a referral for a speech therapist. I was elated. Jo was going to get some help with her speech and I'd be able to understand my little ball of energy. I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up. I took Jo to the speech therapist. The therapist asked Jo to say a few words and grilled me about Jo's development. She looked at Jo's mouth from every angle but inside of it. Then she burst my happy little bubble.
Jo's speech problem was not a physical problem. The reason Jo had developed the speech problem was because she had started talking too early. Then she told me the last thing that I wanted to hear. Our insurance wouldn't cover speech therapy for Jo because she didn't have a physical defect. There was no way we could pay out of pocket for it. She would have to wait until kindergarten to finally start it. I had to spend two more years asking her to repeat herself and playing translator between her and everyone but Mila (strangely Mila understood her).
She got through speech therapy and if you spoke to her now, you'd have no clue that she had ever had a problem. She is still a ball of energy at fourteen and is far more verbose than I am.