They say second born children will often be delayed in their speech, with the oldest doing all the talking for them. This has certainly been the case when it comes to our two and it has caused me a fair bit of worry over the last year or so. I have wondered whether I have done something wrong, not spent enough one on one time with LJ, meaning she just didn’t get the same opportunities to talk as her sister.
Little G started talking at 8 months old and by the time she was one, had a full vocabulary not too dissimilar to now. She was able to communicate and understand complex words and took it all in her stride. To us this was the norm, so when LJ didn’t reach those targets we began to wonder if there was an issue. Now, common sense kicked in quite quickly and we realised that G had been a one off, a special case in the world of toddlers and their speech. We relaxed a little and expected LJ to start talking by 18 months, in line with her peers.
18 months passed by and there was not a single sound coming out of her mouth. Not even a mama or a dada. She was completely mute. I am a worrier anyway but this pushed me over the edge, I didn’t know what to do or what to make of it all. What made it worse was that all of the other toddlers we knew were chatting away, whether that be a toddler babble or actual words.
By her second birthday I was really starting to worry, but she had started to point to things and was able to understand everything I was saying. That came as a huge relief as at least I knew she had the understanding, she just couldn’t express or communicate in return. She had however, said her first word – her sister’s name. I cannot tell you how much I sobbed over that one! She’s always adored her sister, giving her the first smile, the first laughs and now the first word. But it was her only word, not enough to stop the worrying.
She turned 2 in December of last year and I would say by February of this year she seemed to change. Suddenly she seemed to find the words she had been looking for. I actually made a note of them, to remind me of how far she’d come.
– sisps (crisps)
So in just a couple of months she had gone from one to seven words and we were able to see why – she had been waiting until she could say them perfectly. When Grace started to speak, she had a fantastic vocabulary but she had her own versions of those words. LJ, except for crisps, was saying everything clearly and perfectly. Along with these new found words, she was showing signs of embarrassment, like she didn’t want to be praised for speaking. We pretended we weren’t absolutely over the moon that she had broken her silence – even though we were wanting to jump for joy!
By April, she had grown in confidence and was starting to say more and more. Something that seemed to really help with this was the fact that we moved LJ into G’s room. Sharing has meant LJ is subjected to G’s late night ramblings and so she has no option but to listen and absorb! April also brought slap cheek into our lives, meaning G couldn’t go to school for fear of catching it and passing it along to me and baby. Having her home for 7 weeks or so gave them chance to really bond as siblings and gave LJ chance to hear her sister speaking day in, day out.
We are now in June and my mind is completely blown. She has so many words I couldn’t possibly write them down. I would even go as far as saying she is chatty and definitely would give her the title of Miss Bossy Boots! She has got past the embarrassment phase and is attempting new words daily. I still don’t make a fuss but inside I am dancing, I want to give her a million kisses every time she says something new – I am so proud of her.
A couple of weeks ago the girls came into our room bright and early. G announced that she had taught LJ to tell a joke. Still half asleep I nodded and they proceeded to tell me the joke.
G: Knock knock
G: Ammonia little girl and I can’t reach the doorbell.
By this point both Mr F and I were fully awake, staring at eachother in disbelief. LJ had remembered the right things to say. Amazing. But it didn’t end there…
LJ: Knock knock
G: Who’s there?
G: Daddy who?
LJ: Doorbell not work!
Tears down my face. My clever little girl had remembered what to say – not to mention that G had actually taught her an actual joke, not the normal nonsensical jokes they say at that age. They both got big hugs that day and probably wondered why on earth mummy was so emotional.
All this time I had been worrying, worrying that something was wrong, that I had done something wrong. But turns out she knew the words all along, she just needed to wait until she was ready to say them.