Monday, 17 January 2011

It Starts With An M

So my children aren't talking yet. Both Pink and Blue can burble their way through an imaginary conversation on an imaginary telephone, complete with intonation and pauses. But as for actual words? Not so much.

I try not to think about this too much. I don't like how obsessive parents can get about milestones and percentiles - c'mon, lady, I know your child's weight is a number but it's not a score - I always want to say. Children develop at their own pace, right? I air this opinion loudly and often, more loudly and more often recently, as their age increases and their vocabulary does not.

It seems that lots of us have our own issues with these milestones. I mention that my kids aren't talking and am glad to find that I'm not the only one. It's the same for someone else, and her daughter. Yeah, that girl still isn't saying a word. 'Although obviously she's saying mama, of course' her mother tells me.

And I laugh - HA HA HA - and say well yes obviously she's saying mama and then I have to do a backwards ninja somersault and scale a wall so that I can slip away unnoticed, before this person says '... so are your children saying mama yet, Claudia?' because I don't want to tell her that they. absolutely. are. not.

It seems that everyone else's children are pretty much knocking on the wall of the uterus and shouting mama to announce that it's time to go for the twenty week sonogram. Not mine. I flip flop from day to day about why I think this is. Is this a developmental thing, or an attachment thing? And which would be worse? I know they can make the sounds that make up that word. And they've been saying Dah! Dee! (just like that, in two halves) for months, when their father walks into the room.

In the interests of accuracy I should probably point out that they also occasionally say Dah! Dee! to the cat. And J assures me that he has heard them say mamamamamama when they are crying. I've heard them do this too - and it is as likely to be directed at J as at me. They never use it as a label, just as a random word when they are really upset. J reports back to me after one particularly bad episode and says 'I'm pretty sure they just think that mama means pain'. 'I'll show you some pain, sunshine' I say, but then I start to cry because they are eighteen months old and why won't they say my name?

As Christine has said before me, I want to tie a ribbon on this and make some kind of point, but I don't have one. Just throwing this one out there.


  1. Oh, Claudia, they will! My close friend's (bio) daughter just turned two and she only slightly babbles... mostly just says "ahhh" and drools a lot through her big smile. Had to laugh because my friend insists that this gal says words, but none of us who spend significant time with her have EVER heard it. Yet she follows complex commands and knows who everyone is and is clearly attached to her parents. ("Mmm" is harder than "D" for little mouths, also, by the way).

    They'll get there! Just keep lovin' on 'em. (oh and keep up the Ninja moves, regardless... I should be so lucky as to be that in shape right now!) ;)

  2. Do they ever hear anyone referring to you as mama? Do you talk about yourself to them as mama?

    And like Kim said, the "d" sound is easier than the "m" sound, so it usually comes first for babies.

  3. My little one didn't start calling me Mama until she was 18 or 19 months old. I had occasional, full blown freak outs about it. My ego was involved- no surprise there! I felt like it was some sort of referendum on my attachment with her (I'm crazy like that and over think things sometimes too). Either way- she says it at least a million times a day now. :)

  4. They will say it!
    I wondered the same thing as Liz. Do you refer to yourself as mama?

  5. I like to think that when they say "mamamama" in pain or whatever, that they are asking for comfort and that the "mama" is the one most closely associated with that comfort. :) Does that feel better? That's how I always referred to it with E.

  6. I could tell you a couple of stories but they would be too long for this little box. there's the bio one and the adoption one. I'll tell you just one, the bio one because maybe it fits you more. Sonia came to us too late, she came to us at 15 months from a different language, I don't think her story applies to yours. Your babies came home earlier.

    My bio babies were like this. One boy was bi-lingual at 15 months. Spoke TWO languages---TWO! at 15 months. I am not joking. The other one didn't utter a coherent word until he was almost three years old. No kidding. Both are totally normal adults.

    Twins are different. Twins have a secret language between them. They have code and speak a language we don't speak. They speak later then singletons.

    They will speak. But they will speak later. They are smartie patarties. Do not fear. I swear. They are ok.

  7. Oh no, it must be so hard to be waiting to hear "mama", and imagining it would come.... I think though, twins are different. They take longer, and also if they were premature, I am told that takes a month off the expected developmental stage for every month of prematurity.

    Anyway, I have a 5 year old that will talk the ears right off your head if you are interested. Your ears will pack up and run screaming from your head.
    (Hoping that my attempt to be funny is mood lightening, and not totally inappropriate. Besides, you really can have her, because those babies will be talking in a few days, just to tell her... shut up!).

  8. Thanks for being nice about this, people. I don't know why I get so hung up about it but I do! (Probably like Lost- I see it as an attachment referendum. Gaaah!)

    Liz and Cindy - here's the crazy thing, I refer to myself as mama or mummy constantly. I must have done it fifty times today already and it's only lunch time. In fact, since these two came home, I've spent so much time referring to myself in the third person that I'm constantly worried I'm going to do it accidentally at work :)

  9. Hugs! Our little guy took a LONG time to say Momma - and even after he said it, it took months before he would say Momma to me as he went through his day. Now he is using it a lot more - at 2 1/2! He has also figured out my first name and likes to use that at times, since that is the name he always hear others call me. I always smile and say to him, "yes, that is my name, but you get to call me Momma." He did say Dada a lot and from early on - we figured that partly since Dada left it provided more incentive to talk about him. As for me, I was just always a part of his world and so there was no need to have to say my name! :-) I am sure they will be saying it one day and then you will have two little voices calling for you by name! :-)

  10. oh the wondering when the random sounds will turn into MY NAME.

    it sucks worse with teh adopted ones, for sure, but it sucks with homegrown kids too.

    when it happens it's like magic. and it will happen.

  11. I wholeheartedly agree that they will talk and I do think that being twins, they have their own jabber going on. They can talk to each other and take interest in each other. When you have a singleton, they have only you to blabber, too. You are the only object of interest. I love how twins have each other.

    I also relate to your worry about it, though, as I KNOW I would feel the same exact way. They are going to talk and it's fine. I know it. One day say you will tie a ribbon it, girly. ;)

  12. Although I can not assure you that this is not an attachment issue, I can reassure you that this is likely not. My son, who was born to me, does not say mama, and in fact does not refer to me at all. I have been told by our doctor that a child of 18 months old can not understand that a mama is in fact any different then them selves. They can there for not name them because mamas are just an extension of them selves. My son uses the word Ma to indicate a want of food or "more". Basically ma to him represents what I can bring him, more than who I am as a person, because remember in his mind he and I are only one being.
    Sounds like ma to your children means the bringer of comfort. Sounds like they are very attached to you when you think of it like that. :)

  13. In our house, "daddy" means "come here person or cat. I want to play with you and have fun!" It also means dad, the person. "Mama" means "I am hurt or unhappy and need to be comforted." It never means me, the person. It's mostly ok, though, because she seems to like me all right.

    My cousin, a speech therapist, assures me that children show a strong linguistic preference for the "d" or "m" sound as babies, which leads to an early preference for words with that sound, and no link has been found to preference for a particular parent. I try to comfort myself with that fact when I get bummed. Mmm, a comfy blanket of warm!

  14. I know a child (the youngest of four children) who said nary a word until he was just a couple of months shy of five years of age! The parents took him to psychologists, other specialists, had him tested for who knows what...and still nothing.

    Just before he was five, his parents were leaving the house on a date night, and the little guy suddenly decided to speak. His first words were: "my daddy, you cut a mighty dashing figure!" He didn't stop talking after that!

    Hang in there. I know it must be frustrating, and maybe even a bit scary, but one day it will happen...and you will love every word they say (especially mama!).

    BLessings, Claudia.


  15. Claudia- I can't say this for sure- but I think it is rather typical for twins to develop language 'differently' than non multiple peers. They may have language that they use and understand amongst themselves. I'm not thinking full on 'twinspeak' at this age- but... I think it can be typical- either sped up or slowed down. Just a thought. No worries. They know you and a name is just a name- its the you that counts

  16. You know how verbal K is so when we went to the paed the last time I asked about C who was on about a tenth of her words :) He said the same thing everyone says - everyone develops at their own pace and once they start, you'll wish they'd waited longer.

    There is no concern, Claudia, they are babbing and making noises - that is the main thing. To reassure you, my friend who had M a day before mine has to take her to speech therapy because she's not babbling or making ANY noises.

    And on the bright side, when they only say Daddy, only Daddy has to go attend to them. Mummy can enjoy a nice hot cup of tea.

    Oh, maybe that's just in our house :)

  17. I remember fearing and fretting our youngest would never walk. And then never talk. And then never go poop in the toilet. And then never wipe his own bum. Oh wait, he still doesn't wipe his own bum.

    Anyway, there was a whole lot of unnecessary worry, to which I attribute a full head of gray hair.

    They will talk. Soon. And then watch out, cause you will then hear Mama! eleventy-billion times each day.

    And it's heaven. Mostly.

  18. Awww, cut yourself some slack. One day they will say Mama one million times in a row and you will wonder how you ever thought they wouldn't. At least that's what I've seen in other Moms I've observed :)

    I sent you an email...

  19. Just coming back to agree with others who have said that Mama is not only a label for a person. It is a soothing word and I do believe they are saying it when they are upset, as your husband said. My son did this a great deal. Very often the last words he would say as he drifted off to sleep were Mama mama mama.

  20. PJ (my bio-daughter) did not say Mama until way after 18 months. In fact she had the same three words at her 9 mo appt, her 12 mo appt and her 18 mo appt. When I left for Ethiopia she had a few two word combos (she was 23 months). After being with my sister two weeks, she had four word sentences. Now she makes up lyrics to songs (yes, I am sure that means I win some kind of Mommy contest.) Actually, the Mommy contest that I am proud to still be in the running for... Mommies who have never yelled "Just Shut Up, Already" because I have been so, so, so tempted.

  21. As embarrassing as this can be to say, it is really, really hard to watch other children blow past milestones while yours are still content to be... where they are. I have lived that. (((hugs))) Whenever I got weepy about it, I would read myself the children's book "Leo the Late Bloomer." (Quit yer laughing, I really did. *blush*)


Over to you!