Friday, July 22, 2011

The Strong, Silent Type

After reading every book and website on speech delays, and after having a brief visit with a speech-language pathologist (SLP), we had Zephyr evaluated for developmental delays last Wednesday, and it turns out he is completely, smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-the-normal-curve normal. Except for speech. That part, he's only 79th centile.

Normally, they wouldn't consider this a far enough deviation from normal to qualify him for federally-funded therapy, but luckily the SLPs that evaluated him used their best professional judgment to determine that he'd be a good candidate for speech therapy. He might just be a late bloomer, or he might end up with literacy problems later if we don't do something now, early.

So now we wait for the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) to arrive, and then we can start weekly, in-home speech training. I reckon most of the training will be for me and Scott, to help us help Zephyr. In the meantime, I just try to play with him more intently, annunciate more intentionally, use proper English instead of "toddlerese," though we still use the "toddlerese" to quell his thunderstorms, which come and go with frustrating frequency as he cuts four molars and four canines simultaneously, and is unable to communicate much further than pointing and nodding. And disdah. Disdah is, I think, "this is a car."

As in:


But dis is still used to tell me about other things he's observing. Like the white clovers in the garden and the busy little Hymenopteran sisters tending their nectar.

He tells me there are bees here, matter-of-factly. My budding naturalist loves squatting low to watch industrious honeybees and bumblebees, and buzzes alongside them. He loves blowing the fluffy achenes off of dandelions, and perfectly imitating the guttural melody of the American crow.

We spend lots of time at the park, providing happy respite from boredom (for both of us). We usually go in the early morning, so we have the whole place to ourselves. This doesn't really do his social development any favors, but it does help us avoid interactions like the one we had the other day. There's this one mom in the neighborhood, and her son, Liam, is about 6 months older than Zephyr. He's a really skinny little kid, almost always in her lap. He's verbally advanced for his age, but seems pretty shy and xenophobic and may have a social/emotional delay. Thing is, he always has really cool cars with him, which are irresistible to Zephyr. So like any other toddler, Zephyr grabbed one off the ground and started to try to take off with it to play. The other mom scoops up Liam, says something like "you don't want him to play with your car, do you?" and Liam buries his face in her neck and sort of says no, shaking his head.

This is the second time Zephyr has tried to play with this kid's toys at the park, so obviously he's established a pattern of behavior. This woman says to me, "he probably just senses that he can easily dominate Liam."

Yes, you stupid bitch, my 20 month-old son is a cold-blooded predator, can sense weakness in your son, and knew he'd easily overpower him to get what he wanted. He's cold-blooded, merciless and calculating. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he is a FUCKING TODDLER and the part of his brain that feels empathy or understands the concept of sharing has literally not grown yet. But go ahead and keep treating your son like a helpless victim. That should bode well for him socially, especially if he stays in the 10th centile for weight. You can protect him his whole life.

I muttered an apology, took the car away from Zephyr, handed it back and Zephyr started crying. I picked him up and we took off. If we see them again, I think I'll just tell Zephyr that Liam is too scared to play and we'll go to the other end of the park where he can't hurt anyone. The funny thing is, our friend's boy, Jude, is 14 months old, and takes cars from Zephyr all the time. Zephyr cries, then when it's time to part, we take the car from Jude and he cries. No one thinks Jude is a sociopath for not knowing how to share, and since Zephyr has almost ten pounds on Jude, it's clearly not that Jude thinks he can dominate Zephyr. I honestly don't know how anyone can go into parenthood without at least knowing that toddlers think everything is "mine."

But I can see how she'd think that Zephyr's a monster. I mean, look at this face.



  1. Amy Isabella EnglishJuly 22, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    I heart your brain. Zephyr is adorable (and maybe just a skosh diabolical lol) thank you for sharing him, as well as your insights on parenthood. Educational and entertaining, hats off to you my friend.

  2. Man, some parents are tools. That's all there is to it. I'm really sensitive about my daughter swiping other kids' toys at the park and my son giving them unwanted (and repeated) hugs. So far we haven't met any parents that aren't very understanding, but I'm always on edge, just waiting for the first parent that is obviously frightened of my kids. I try to tell myself that times have changed and we are in a whole other state but, obviously, we've just been lucky. Bah.

    I wish you much good luck with the speech therapy. At Zephyr's age, my son's speech therapy was more eating therapy it seemed. But with the Down syndrome I think that was why they weren't working on actual speech so much yet. We did end up going to a clinic when he was 3 and his at-home therapist became the only one for all of Sacramento County. He did great there, sort of. He wouldn't interact with the therapist at all, but I sat in on all the sessions and worked with him at home and he made a lot of progress. Then we moved and we were told nothing was available unless we paid for it. Bah again. I can see now that was the beginning of my "thanks, I'll do it myself" phase. Wonder if I'll grow out of that? Anyway, I for one would love to hear more about how that goes.

  3. I'm glad you got some great evaluators! I was kind of hoping that would happen. I am sure you guys are doing everything right in your speech with Zephyr; but as I've mentioned, the affirmation and weekly visits can be such a comfort. I hope you get Cami. Ask for Cami!

    and wow, Liam and the mom. that's unacceptable. all my kids have *always* tried to play with other kids' cars. and of course, they're all raging murderous bullies, as you know. it's just really, really dangerous to start putting kids in the bully/victim spectrum at this age. can you guess where Liam is going to end up? poor kid.

    I think we need to have more playdates with Monroe to equalize him :) we are have a strict no-victim policy here.

  4. Goddamn, I know exactly what you're talking about. Can't stand the overprotective, hovering moms. I tend to take a step back, and let the kids work it out. Finn had a little friend we hung out with once in a while, and she would literally grab him by the throat, strangle him, and pin him to the floor. It wasn't until he started turning a little blue that I finally told her that was enough.

    Kidding, a little (she actually did hold him down and pull his hair) but I really wonder how kids like Liam will navigate in society. I actually *want* kids to take trucks from Finn. It's good to start toughening up early.

    Zephyr is so sweet and cute. And Liam's mom is a bitch. Keep doing what you're doing.

  5. I just observed an interaction like that with a girl and boy toddler at a party. She completely saw what she wanted and went for it. The boy would cry and protest. Finally after watching the bizarre ritual of the car going from one hand to another, I told her to please return the boys cars and she did so without protest and they continued to play. Was cute. That mother needs to let her son have normal interactions, its all part of the social ritual .
    They better leave my Zephyr alone.;-)


Yay! Thanks for saying nice stuff about my baby.