I was just dying to use a Beastie Boys’ album for a post title and I finally made it work! I don’t know which dates me better – the band or the fact that I actually used the word “album” rather than “CD.” Either way, I’m feeling old. But that’s besides the point. This post is about communication and I’m here to talk (or, er, write) about it.
Don’t get me wrong, we have a TON of talking going on in our house. There’s almost never a quiet moment, actually. We have sudden statements, pronouncements and talking through problems. We have long, drawn-out conversations and monologues. We have near constant object identification going on. And so many questions. It’s just that none of this appears to be in English. Twin talk is a very real phenomenon in our house, and I hate to admit it, but it’s workin’ my nerves. Occasionally there are real words peppered in, mainly when we prod them to use our native language. We can get hi, cracker and tractor, dog and duck, and a resemblance of truck and train out of Oskar. Abel will say hi (constantly), up and down, dog, uh-oh, baby (sometimes) and ball, and just like his brother, a resemblance of truck and train. And of course, mama and dada are staples, used and abused, in both repertoires. In fact, I think that J is the founding father of our boys’ language, as it’s core consists of the consonant-vowel combo “da-da.” a-dah-a-dah-a-bizul-bizel-dip-a-dah-yup. Please don’t ask me to translate.
We have moments of brilliance where the boys’ will say an English word perfectly. Today it was lion for Oz. Clear as a bell and when looking at the awesome roaring animal in Little Gorilla. Unmistakable. And never to be heard again. Their imitation of sentences in English is pretty amazing, too. Abel regularly says, “Yep, I do!” It catches people off guard it sounds so accurate and in perfect context. The intonation is spot-on. But da-da speak is 95 percent of what comes out of their mouths.
I worry they are behind in their speech development. At 17 months, shouldn’t they have more words?! I can’t help but compare them to other children their age who have mind-blowing vocabs of 50 and 60 words. I’m not looking for a miracle here, but a consistent ten words would be fabulous. Will they continue to refine their own language and just leave English for the rest of us chumps? Will they need some crazy therapy intervention so people can understand them before they enter kindergarten? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night and make me consider enrolling them in Montessori come August, just so they can have regular exposure to peers who speak our common language.
And then there’s the side of me that says “get a grip!” They are clearly smart, interactive and communicative lil’ guys that are up-to-snuff in all other areas of their development. And it’s not that they don’t understand English. I can tell them to do virtually anything and they do it. I even test them with more sophisticated directions – “put the brown sandals in the drawer.” I look down to see the grey sneakers and green sandals still on the floor and the brown gems tucked neatly in the dresser. Check. I google, “how many words should a 17 month old have?” and I read about the extremes. I check my Brazelton bible and read how you should get things checked out if your child is two with no intelligible words. I hear stories of friends whose kids were two before they uttered a word, and then out poured complete sentences. I reassure myself that we are still more than within the range of normal. I still worry.
Maybe I just feel left out. These boys are so wonderfully expressive and clearly have so much to say, it drives me nuts that I’m the odd-mom-out. Should I be working harder to understand their language? Is this normal for twins?
Clearly I’m at a loss for words. Dear readers, please help me decipher this code.