Our younger daughter has hit most of her milestones later than her big sister did, and that’s fine. All kids progress at their own pace. While some delays have been minorly frustrating – it felt like an eternity waiting for her to walk at nearly 16 months when EC had walked shortly after 10 months – none of it has ever worried me. It was actually a little amusing, since she “walked” on her knees instead for a good 3 months or so before getting up onto her feet (I blame her freakishly tiny feet), and the knee-walk was cute to watch.
But I think my favorite “delay” is actually her speech. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not “speech-delayed” or anything dramatic. She’s nearly 20 months old, and she has a handful of words – very normal according to all sources, but significantly less than EC had at that age. I looked back the other day at some videos taken of EC at this same age, and she was clearly singing full songs, and “reading” (read: “reciting”) board books. While there were definite advantages to having a child who was very communicative so early, there are some reasons that I am enjoying having a second child who’s not quite so chatty.
Less sibling fights. I know that there are plenty of years of bickering ahead of us, and I’ve already said more than once that when YC does start talking more, EC is in for a rude awakening, because she won’t always get her way anymore. Right now, she can’t understand her little sister’s objections, so I’m able to mediate with some fabrication. Once YC is expressing her opinions in her own words, it’s going to get interesting really fast.
Signing is adorable. We started sign language with YC pretty early on, and she signs “please”, “nurse”, “eat”, “milk”, “water”, “excuse me”, and “thank you” (which she has sweetly merged with blowing kisses). Though she is getting more verbal words all the time, she still insists on signing for all of these things, and it’s just so charming, I’m in no rush for it to change.
Her face tells me everything. One of the first things most people notice, and the biggest things they comment on, when meeting YC, is how expressive her face is. It doesn’t usually matter that she doesn’t say anything; you can’t mistake her attitude in any given situation. She has the most effective withering stare of disdain I’ve ever seen on a child, and a few seconds later, she might grace you with the most full-faced gleeful laughing smile. And the girl is smart as a whip. She understands everything, and does not hesitate to make her opinion known. She epitomizes the need for spelling in front of little kids, especially things like P-A-S-T-A or C-O-O-K-I-E.
It’s like she and I have our own private language. I’m not saying I always understand her, but being at home, and her sister being at school three days a week, I spend pretty much every waking hour (hers, I mean) with her, and a lot of it just the two of us, so no one understands her distorted words better than I do. I love being privy to her secret language. I love that I was able to encourage her to call EC “Sissy” when I noticed that her attempts at EC’s actual name were coming out as “Kuh-kuh”. Mr Imperfect might not have been a big fan of “Sissy” at first, but she can say it, and it’s better than her calling her sister poop – and EC loves her special nickname!
Every word feels that much more exciting when it does come. With EC, her words came so early and so fast that it just became old hat for us to introduce a new one and her to start repeating it. With YC, her common response when we ask her to repeat a word is a sort of humming sound, as if she’s saying it with no consonants, but when she does imitate the word, it’s thrilling – especially when she does it for her “Sissy”. The other day, EC was entertaining YC while I made dinner by “reading” a book about shapes. I heard this through the playroom window:
EC: This is a circle. Can you say “circle”?
EC: This is a square. Can you say “square”?
EC: This is an oval. Can you say “oval”?
EC: YES!! MAMA! DID YOU HEAR? SHE SAID “OVAL”!!!
Eventually, she’ll be in the full swing of toddler-speak, and then the preschooler lisp-y speech, and eventually totally normal words. For now, I’m enjoying this unique communication phase. Who knows, maybe she’s a genius in the making!