My daughter is CHATTY. There’s rarely a moment of silence with her around unless—
a) she has a mouthful of food.
b) she’s sleeping (though she talks in her sleep a fair bit).
c) I’m brushing her teeth but even then, she manages to hum.
d) she’s absorbed in sending a text (which is essentially digital talking) or watching TV.
Her chattiness is amazing considering her “profound speech delay.” Perfectly formed sentences be dammed, if she makes an observation or has a question, you’re going to hear about it.
She might know what she wants to say, but finding the right words is a struggle. I’m having a similar issue at the moment. I’m forgetting the names of simple household items and stumbling over my words. Turns out this is a very real and very annoying side effect of peri-menopause. Oh hoorah, good times ahead.
Anyway, that’s to say, I get it. It’s incredibly frustrating to know what you want to say, but due to wonky wiring between the word bank in your head and your mouth, the words escape you.
As Avery’s family, we almost always know what she’s trying to say and we usually let her finish on her own. Unless I’m running late and speed her along by completing her sentence for her. Yes, I do that sometimes. I’m not proud of it, I’m only human and sometimes I just need to get out the freaking door in a timely manner.
Other times I start her sentences for her. But this isn’t me rushing her along. We’ve found it helps, especially on days when she’s tired or distracted, to start her off.
When she’s stuttering at the beginning of a thought (this happens when she’s struggling to find the next word) I’ll sometimes jump in to “kickstart” her sentence.
Mom: “Avery, what would you like for breakfast?”
Avery: “I, I, I, like….I, I, I….wwwwww”
Mom: “I would like…”
Avery: “I would like oatmeal please. I loooooooove oatmeal.”
She hears the words and repeats them, adding her own to finish the sentence. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes a little push at the front end helps her over the sticky bit, allowing the rest of the words to flow more freely.
This is why I started a simple sentence for her at the grocery checkout the other day. Taking Avery shopping with me after a long day at school, when she was tired and hungry, was not my smartest idea.
When the cashier asked my daughter, “What’s your name?” and Avery began to stammer her reply I jumped in and said, “My name is…” I did it for the reasons above. Well, Avery didn’t get a chance to reply because the cashier admonished my behaviour with a sharp, “Let her SPEAK mum!”
Holy shit. I was about to respond when she added, “She can speak for herself,” shaking her head.
And then she asked Avery again, “Go ahead sweetheart. What’s your name?”
I snapped. I got right up in her face and said in a low growl, “Shut up fool. You have no idea what you’re talking about. She can speak for herself? What a stupid thing to say. Do you even know how difficult it is to watch my child struggle to find the words? I’m not an overbearing mom who speaks for her child on a whim. I’m trying to help her. And by the way, don’t ask a little kid to tell you her name. That’s none of your business. Stranger danger much? Kindly eff off. Oh, and I’m going to need some plastic bags. I forgot my reusable ones at home.”
Fine. I didn’t say any of that. Even though I wanted to jab her with the plastic stick that separates customer’s groceries on the conveyor belt, I didn’t poke her or tell her off. Instead I let Avery speak for herself. And I have to say, she got it all out perfectly.
We paid for our groceries and left and I fumed all the way home. I’m not sure if I was more annoyed with a stranger for making assumptions and judgements about my daughter and about my parenting. Or, if I was angry at myself for letting her ruffle my feathers and for not setting her straight. Or maybe I was upset because she touched a nerve? Perhaps I do jump in more often than I should, justifying it as me “helping her.” I don’t know. Self-reflection is a bitch.
Anyway, we’re going shopping there again this week and if that cashier is working, Avery and I will be lining up in her lane. Now that I’ve composed myself, I’d like a do-over. And this time, if necessary, I’ll use my words.