A toddler of few words.

As a person, I worry a lot. The things I worry about and the extent that I worry about them mean I would probably be officially diagnosed with anxiety.

But, as a parent, I am surprisingly easy-going. I don’t keep an eagle eye on milestones, I don’t really compare Devin to other kids, and I don’t fret if he happens to eat something off the floor. And generally, he hasn’t really given me much cause to worry – the only times my anxiety really switches on in regard to his development and well-being is when I read too much. I tend to be uptight about whatever it happens to be this time (eating more vegetables, reading more books, doing more puzzles, saying more words etc…) for a day or two, and then I realise that I’m not really helping and there was nothing wrong to ‘fix’ in the first place.

And now comes another but.

I am becoming more preoccupied with his speech. Or specifically, his rather small vocabulary, which currently consists of Dad, ice (eyesh), Poppy (puh-pah), Mum (mum or mem), apple (appah – and every fruit is an appah), and most recently, bye.
‘Bye’ was actually kind of funny – Devin was leaving with my mum and sister to go shopping, and after he waved and stepped out the door I heard a little voice say, “Bye!” I froze, looked at my sister who was still inside, and asked, “Was that Devin?!” Yep, sure was. I hadn’t heard him say any words so clearly before, let alone an attempt to say ‘bye’, so to hear it come from his mouth in perfect English was extremely surprising. I was so shocked that my heart was racing for a few minutes afterwards.
Now, everything and everyone gets a ‘bu-byyyye!’ when they leave his line of sight.

He seems to be trying to say ‘car’ and ‘truck’, too, though I can’t recall right now what it sounds like. It’s almost like he’s mashing the two together, or deciding that all cars and trucks are close enough to being the same thing that he can use one word for everything with wheels.

And, though he doesn’t say it in a way that is even remotely like English, he does say ‘thank you’ whenever he is given something. It sounds a bit silly to say that – ‘he says it, but he doesn’t say it’. But I know. Sometimes he takes a sip of a drink, for instance, before remembering that he hasn’t said ‘thank you’, so he quickly pulls the cup away, smiles at me and says it. And I always respond with, ‘you’re welcome.’ I’m really pleased that he’s doing this without being prompted, actually. Up until he started doing it himself, I’d hand him something while saying, ‘thank you, Mum’, then follow with ‘you’re welcome, Devy’ when it was in his hands. Also, Jene and I have always said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ often to each other. But, for whatever reason, I thought it would be a long time before Devin really picked up on it.

There are things that ease my mind. Devin babbles a lot, he makes noises when he’s playing, he knows animal noises and machine noises, he groans with imagined exertion whenever we say ‘heavy’, he recognises a lot of what we say, and he sings along to music. He’s also started to occasionally say, ‘naaah-oh’ (no) when he recognises that something isn’t quite right – like when we were lining up his little cars and he put an aeroplane in the line.

When I lay everything out like that, I feel more relaxed. It’s just a little hard not to wonder if something isn’t quite right when many 2 year olds have vocabularies up to 100 words (or more) and are stringing them together into basic sentences. It’s also hard to know when comparing is just causing undue worry, and when it might actually be helpful…


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