where my belief that the boys' speech issues will resolve themselves leads me to consider homeschooling once more

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Oh, Blogworld.

I’ve written before about my boys’ speech issues, and about their speech therapy “homework,” and about how well it fits into our evening routine.

They are trying really hard at speech. P has corrected a few of his significant errors and is a lot easier to understand now. G is working hard at it and has corrected one or two of his most prevalent errors. They have speech therapy on two consecutive days each week, and they usually bring home one worksheet each day.

That’s one worksheet each, of course… To all of you with higher order multiples, I have no idea how you do it, and you have my unflagging admiration.

Anyway. The boys’ speech homework looks like this:

Each boy has about 3 minutes of attention for these worksheets. I know it says they can draw a picture, but they want to write. After about 3 minutes, they get depressed and tired, and I have to give them a pep talk to get them motivated again. They work for about a minute, then get very excited and animated and jump on the furniture telling me stories. Then I try to get them to focus again, we work for another minute… and it repeats. And I do this with each boy separately, while the other boy fights with his sisters unsupervised, because it works better that way.

Today, G got halfway through his worksheet and confessed that last week in class, they’d been talking about words that start with “Y.” G raised his hand and said, “Yellow.” But because the boys had been saying their Ls as Ys [“yeh-yoh”] G now is easily confused about what “Y” sounds he should correct to “L.” He said it wrong, his teacher tried to correct him, he said it wrong again, she tried to correct him again… he told me he kept trying to say it right but he just couldn’t, and finally his teacher said, “No, no, NO!”

His eyes were teary and he was choked up telling me about this. I can’t imagine how embarrassing it was for him to be corrected like that in front of his whole class — I’m still impressed that he volunteered to participate in the first place. His teacher is fantastic, and I sure couldn’t do her job. I know this was just a moment of frustration at the end of a long week, but my heart broke for my little guy, who is trying really really hard.

Jen is a work-from-home mom of 6-year-old twin boys, and two girls ages 4 and 8. She also blogs at Diagnosis: Urine, where she whines a lot about being a de facto single parent during the brutal homework, dinner, and bedtime circles of hell.

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Ill Communication

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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.

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