Getting Real With Veronica Ibarra
Oh, those developmental benchmarks we call milestones. They can drive a mother mad. There is the cry of future genius when your baby does something ahead of the curve, and the worry that sets in if they seem to be missing the window.
When it comes to these milestones, there is a range of normal. Most of the time I’m good with that. Boys and girls tend to develop differently. I’m good with that too. But then there is this small niggling doubt that festers because I think, but I’m not sure, that things aren’t going the way they should. My 3 1/2 yo isn’t conversational. In fact, he makes a lot of noise, mimicking sound effects, says a few identifiable words, but for the most part his interactions are conducted with demanding gestures.
Whenever I take him somewhere with other kids his age many of them are talking, or making a great effort to talk. My son watches, and generally doesn’t make a sound around other kids, though he will yell at his older sister at home every waking moment. This tends to confuse me. Is he really delayed, socially awkward, or is this some personality quirk that will define him for life?
This is where I have been for a while, stuck in the doubt. What if something is wrong? How do I tell? What do I do? Who do I talk to? What if I’m just being paranoid?
It’s that last question that makes me want to slap myself. I’m a mother, a concerned mother! Every doubt is a valid concern that needs addressing, even if it is to assure me that there is no need for concern.
Yes, he is a boy, different from his sister. Yes, he is younger and stays at home with me, while his sister was in day care at that age. He makes eye contact, shows affection, and can play video games better than his father. Still I come back to the talking thing. We communicate, but mostly I have to admit that as his mother I anticipate his needs. I’m in tune with his gestures and sounds. Even when I have no clue what he is saying, I know what he means.
It isn’t enough to talk to friends. Waiting around for the next wellness appointment is just another delay tactic. If I’m really worried then it’s time to do something, especially if I want him pre-school ready for next August. I need to find out if it’s possible, and how to do it.
To start with I’ve been keeping a list of every identifiable word and phrase he uses consistently. On the list I’ve even phonetically spelled out his pronunciations. It has served the purpose of giving me something concrete to look at to validate my concerns. It also provides me with something to show his pediatrician or other professionals because I find that when I’m asked I can think of nothing off the top of my head.
This leads me to the next step: Calling the professionals. Instead of sitting on my butt fretting, I did some research. Turns out at my son’s age in the state of North Carolina I can have him assessed/evaluated now, so I called the number for my county program. It twisted my gut to do it because on the one hand it feels like I’m admitting that something is wrong, but on the other I have to remind myself that this is the step that is going to help put my concerns to rest and give me better direction on what to do.
Too often we are afraid to act because we either don’t want to be right or to be wrong. If we’re right then we have to cope and deal with the fact that we don’t live in a perfect world. If we’re wrong then we are idiots that wasted time and resources. This is the battle I struggle with most as a mother. I’m a concerned mother, not a paranoid idiot. If there is something I need to do then I need to do it. If it turns out that no problems exist then I have still acted in the best interest of my child.