I have written about development and milestones and how I feel about them before. Have things changed in the year since I wrote that? Maybe a little.
I have never been one to look at the milestones and live by them checking my son's development every single week and making sure he is ‘where he should be’ (I genuinely hate that phrase, but I’ve never really been good with conforming to expectations I guess). To be honest I don’t know if I know a parent like that, do they even exist? Don’t we all just know our babies are all individual and will do things when and as they want to? Take our potty training experience for example… we tried too early first time round. It didn’t work. We gave it some months and then suddenly one day he decided he wanted to wear pants and was dry literally overnight. No pressure, no forcing. And it worked.
When it comes to speech, we do have a delay on our hands. And that's fine. He’s been slow off the mark with getting to where he is currently compared to milestones. I think the kids in his nursery class are further along in their speech development. And it is a concern of mine to think it could affect him building relationships if he can’t communicate to the same level as his peers. But at the moment, he seems to be doing fine in that respect building wonderful relationships with his classmates. He has a best mate too and all they do is play cars and greet each other with cuddle each morning. The other day we went to a hall filled with bouncy castles and his friend asked him "Do you want to go on the big one over there?" and he shouted "Yeeeeh!" and ran off with her.
But you do start questioning yourself as a parent. Am I doing enough? Can I be helping/training him further at home? We talk non-stop at home. I ask him questions constantly but I know by the time I get home he’s had a busy day and asking what he did at nursery is probably like asking me what I did six years ago, I couldn’t tell you. But I worry we could be doing more. Flashcards don’t seem to work at the moment. Why would an active three year old want to sit down and look at cards when he could run around the house with a blanket on his head playing hide and seek? That’s way more fun!
Initially his connective words weren’t there. So he could say “Milk daddy” absolutely fine. But “Can I have some milk daddy?” wasn’t happening. Now, he’s gotten so much better and I swear it’s down to being at nursery every morning and plus, his natural development. I just know it. He is using “too” in the right context as well. He’s saying “I don’t like it, daddy” when presented with (every) meal and also “No I don’t want to do that” in response to some questions, which is a relatively new one. It’s happening and at his own pace. I guess that’s why I feel fairly relaxed about it? But it is questions and answers we seem to be struggling with at the moment.
Open ended questions are quite simply ignored/not answered. If I were to say “It’s your birthday soon, are you excited for your party?” he’d say “Yes, party now!” but if I asked what he wanted to do for his birthday, he probably wouldn't answer. If I said “Would you like to have a disco or a bouncy castle?” he’d choose one. He needs options. And that’s quite ‘normal’. But we’ve recently spoken to the keyworker at his nursery about it and it was a really productive, reassuring meeting. We are working with the team on introducing new techniques and making sure we're aligned with what they are doing at nursery so it's consistent at home. It was really nice to get some insight into how he is getting on at nursery too. There is a serious lack of funding within our local area for what is classed as 'non essential' educational support and speech therapy has been affected. It's not good. Luckily his friendships are flourishing and his class mates seem to have no issues in understanding him. I thought it'd be the opposite, it does make me happy knowing other kids want to play with him, despite him not communicating with them to same level as they do.
I don’t ever want my relaxed approach to be considered lazy. We aren’t lazy. But we know him better than anyone. And we’ve seen such huge leaps in the last few months and he has a full nine months before starting school.
He didn’t sit up as early as most kids. But he sat up.
He took his firs steps ‘later than normal’ but he got up and walked.
He potty trained just after turning three, considered late to some. But he’s done things when he has wanted to do them.
And I for one love that! I couldn’t see any joy in forcing these things along. We can do all we can to help, assist, support and love him. He’ll pick it all up. I know he will. Remember, the child that can write their own name may not be dry at night. And the child that’s dry at night might not be there with using a pencil. And it’s okay. All in their own sweet time.
You hear a lot about pressures from schools or when it's time for exams and revising... and I think we have a job as parents to really reduce that pressure. Well, that’s how I will be when he’s at school. He has tricky homework? We’ll work it out together and if he’s struggling we’ll chat to the teacher. If there’s an ounce of pressure displayed from teachers, we’ll douse that fire out and assure him there’s nothing to worry about and that his dads will be proud of him no matter what he comes home with each day. I guess I just want to say that if you're reading this and are experiencing similar speech delays with your own kids, it'll be okay. Seek some professional advice and go with your gut. It is a mantra I swear by but they are ALL different and will all do things at their own pace.
I, of course, want him to be successful in whatever he sets himself to do in life. But I actually got pretty bad GCSEs… I don’t think I revised once. And I turned out okay (some might disagree!). Teachers reading this might want to lynch me, but school? Learning? Development? I would much rather he learns through love and life… that’ll put him in a good stead for adulthood in my eyes. But hey, let’s nail the speech before we even start thinking of school yeh? ;-)