Perceived Parenting Fail
So some of you are aware that my son was basically half-deaf for the first two years of his life. Even though I spent a full year fighting with pediatricians to give him the necessary surgery, Vincent's hearing (and subsequently, his speech development) suffered terribly.
Ever since having his tubes placed in September, he's made tons of progress. He's been working regularly with a speech therapist, and has recently figured out how to lace a few words together for basic requests. He's still about eight months behind the rest of his peers, but he's making progress.
Sometimes, however, that progress seems painfully slow to me, and it makes me want to lash out at folks who simply don't know any better.
For example, when I take Vincent to the store, there will inevitably be some nice person who wants to ask Vincent for his name and age. They mean well, and they obviously have no way of knowing that he's delayed in speech (and thus, comprehension). However, when they press him repeatedly even after my quick "His name is Vincent and he's a big boy at two years old!" I get agitated FOR him. I want to protect him from the confused looks and the subsequent, "Doesn't he talk already?" questions. Again, keep in mind that (because of his sheer size) Vince looks a year older than he actually is (he's only 2.5)
Then I end up feeling like a horrible mother because, in all honesty, he SHOULD be talking by now (at least better than he is), and maybe if I'd've fought a little harder on the ear surgery, this wouldn't be a problem for him. Maybe all of this is the result of my laziness in regards to reading to him often enough, talking to him enough, or forcing him to use words to communicate with me.
I don't know.
Some days you just end up feeling like a parental failure, and for me, this is one of those days.
One of my friends posted a video of her son singing a song. It was adorable and I was so happy to see my friend and her son sharing such a sweet moment with us. However, something inside made me want to cry because Vincent is nowhere near this little one's capacity (and Vince is almost a full year older than him!). Immediately the doubt began to rush over me.
I must not be coaxing him to talk enough.
Maybe I'm not spending enough time verbalizing with him.
I should read to him more often.
I should SING to him more often.
Maybe we should up the speech therapist to three times a week.
I can't wait until his hearing appointment, because God forbid the tubes fell out and he's already blocked again.
Should I try to bump the appointment? Maybe they can see us today.
It's enough to make a mother go insane.
I have to keep taking deep breaths and realize that Vince IS making progress. No, he's not spouting off his name and age and silly songs perfectly, but at least he's making headway. He can sing a good portion of Team Umizoomi's theme, and the lyrics for Fresh Beat songs? Pfft... Even if he can't get 'em out, he definitely knows them.
There's nothing inherently WRONG with Vincent. He's developmentally ahead of his peers in every single area except verbal / comprehension. I realize this has everything to do with the fact that he couldn't hear for the first two years of his life. I realize that catching up will take time. I realize that he's already made so much progress. I realize all of this. Even so, sometimes you just feel like you're not doing enough and because of your parenting failures, your child suffers.
5/15/2012 10:39:10 am
Max didn't talk until he was well past two and a half- not one word. Not mama, not dada, not anything. It drove my in-laws insane; they thought he was autistic, and staged an intervention with his father and I to get us to see that he needed to see a specialist. I just sat there and stared at them when they went on and on about how they'd talked to all their neighbors (without our knowledge or consent) and to acquaintances who had an autistic son, and to physicians and specialists, and *it has nothing to do with you, dear; it's genetic,' and all I could say was 'I think if there was something wrong there I would know it, yes? I do spend twenty four hours a day seven days a week with him, and NO boy in my family has ever talked before he was two besides. It's a documented fact.' And then there was the 'oh, you're too close and in denial; no one wants to believe something's up with their child', and we thanked them politely and escorted them out after saying firmly that if we felt we needed to look into it, we would. After they were gone, I looked at David and said 'man, they have balls of steel, don't they?' He said 'And brains of porridge.' And we went on as we had (we'd had his hearing checked; he was fine) and threw a little therapy in there to 'get him kick-started' as his family doc said, and within six months, he was talking in full sentences.
5/15/2012 10:52:25 am
I'd also just like to add - when they ask him what his name and age is - you might not want to answer for him. Instead of saying 'his name is Vincent and he's two' (leading to confused looks as to why he isn't answering, and delaying his incentive to bother since you're doing it for him - I learned THAT one the hard way) just say simply 'He's had hearing issues that have been recently corrected by surgery, and he's just learning to talk as a result. Two years of blessed peace for me, mind you, but now that your ears work properly, you're going to be talking mine off in no time, aren't you, Vince?'
5/15/2012 11:20:09 am
GREAT advice, Dom! I love it! Thanks!
I just want to say that, my kids all have worked on their motor skills first and generally don't say more than a handful or words until they are 18 months to 2 years. It is just the way they operate. And, frankly, people should mind their own business. My 4 year old speaks fine but she won't answer someone if they ask a question. She will hide behind me. She is just shy and that is okay. The fact anyone would make assumptions just because he doesn't reply is simply rude. IMHO
5/15/2012 03:38:39 pm
Awww - that's so cute!
5/15/2012 12:46:24 pm
i think there's a common syndrome for us- it's called "First Time Mom Terror." While we know that following our instinct is best and know we're doing everything we can for our kids, there's that little voice in the back of our head that gives us mini panic attacks if they don't seem to be caught up with everyone else.
5/15/2012 03:36:13 pm
Most Awesome Godmother- (truth)
5/16/2012 12:50:33 am
Welp, you finally got me to comment.
5/16/2012 01:35:35 am
Ha ha ha - that was my plan all along *evil grin*
5/16/2012 02:33:10 am
"I've successfully suckerpunched it in the baby-maker"
5/16/2012 08:04:54 am
My wife had undiagnosed hearing loss as a child (not sure when it was caught, probably around 3 years). She speaks perfectly today. I have no doubt that Vincent will do great in life and that you are doing a great job of parenting.
5/17/2012 05:05:18 pm
5/18/2012 08:35:15 am
Unfortunately, I don't. I usually resort to, "he's small/little for his age." This probably isn't the best thing since it could impact his self-image so I may have to rethink that.
5/16/2012 01:45:32 pm
My brother in law said nothing to anyone until he was four. He never shuts up now.
5/17/2012 05:04:02 pm
I really did laugh out loud when I read that... ha ha. Thanks, Dymphna. <3
5/17/2012 08:04:19 am
You need to give yourself more credit. There is so many things Vince does know how to do because of you. Like kick me out of his room because its bedtime. I'll never forget when he did that. Don't be so harsh on yourself, you're doing a great job :)
5/17/2012 05:05:54 pm
I can't wait until he starts calling you Reesa. LoL
5/21/2012 05:23:14 pm
My youngest, Eamonn, did little more than grunt until he was five years old. He was also always large for his age, he still is at 18 years old, he is a tad over 6'2" and @ 220... but I digress. Eamonn had a lot of hearing problems and still occasionally loses part of his hearing due to fluid in his ears despite multiple sets of tubes and eventually having his ear drums replaced twice. He is an exceptional young man, he is an Eagle Scout, volunteers at church countless hours to do whatever the priest needs and volunteers with an animal shelter. Everyone that meets him seems to like him and immediately trust him, he is often called a gentle giant.
5/22/2012 02:11:51 am
Thank you for dropping in and commenting, Anna. I appreciate hearing your experience. It certainly gives me a sweet perspective to reflect upon for Vince.
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