Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Adventures in Parenting: When Your Child Isn't Perfect.

So, I mean, we all, as the humble parents we are, KNOW that our kids aren't perfect.  The lack of sleep we're accustomed to, their tantrums when you tell them they can't watch Bubble Guppies because dinner is ready and they just finished watching an hour of Elmo, the nose picking, the sass-mouth.  Come on.  We ALL already fully comprehend that our kids aren't perfect.  They are (for the most part) normal, but definitely not perfect.

BUT...when someone else points out an imperfection...reality comes swooping in with big bold letters.
Last month, our son's daycare hosted development screenings by Parents As Teachers.  We filled out a questionnaire, and they came in to do...whatever it is they do to determine how language and fine motor skills are coming along.  And for the most part, our kiddo did great.  

For the most part.

After the screening, The Hubs got a call.  Letting us know that Lil' Man's communication skills are behind all his peers.  And they think it's because he has a lot of wax buildup in his ears, and/or because he seems to have constant ear infections (most of which we've likely never even known about because he's completely asymptomatic when they show up--during at least 3 well-baby visits, we were informed that our kiddo had an ear infection).  Just recently, he got sent home with a fever and after he stayed fussy for another day, we decided to take him to the doctor, thinking it was an ear infection.  It was Strep...AND an ear infection.  If it hadn't been for the Strep, we wouldn't have even known he had an ear infection.

So, because of said wax and ear infections, the PAT folks surmised that this whole time while he's been learning language, he hasn't been hearing it properly, and thus many of his words are mushy and sound more like babble--even though he's actually trying to use real words.  Most of the time, The Hubs and I can eke out the essence of whatever he's trying to say---and some words/sentences are very clear, like "*insert name of his BFF* bonk his head chasin' da vacuum". (Something he was very excited to tell us when I picked him up from school earlier this week.)
To be honest--we had already noticed this.  We asked his pediatrician at his 2 year appointment if we should be concerned about his speech, since it seemed like some of his classmates already spoke pretty clearly.  She said that because of his age, there wasn't much they could definitively tell, but since he knew over 100 words that it probably wasn't a problem. And that if we still had concerns when he was closer to 3, she'd schedule something for us.

And then, 6 months down the road, it gets pointed out to us again, this time by another professional.  

And that stings.  

It stings partially because you feel like you've finally gotten past most of the stupid mom-guilt floating around out there, and can feed your kid non-organic food without any twinge of regret...and then something REAL comes along, and it's hard not to internalize it.

"Is this somehow MY FAULT?"  

Is it because we still let him sleep with a paci?  No, surely not--he's not talking in his sleep, that's not the problem...could we have taken him to the doctor more, any time he even touched his ear?  Should we have been more diligent about cleaning the wax out of his ears?  Are we talking too fast and he can't learn how to pronounce things properly because WE'RE mushing up words? And why can't he pedal a trike yet? (Entirely separate issue, but still...)

And no matter how many times people say, "hey, you're catching it early--the majority of kids who have speech issues as a toddler are completely fixed by the time they go to school..."

Fixed.  Which means he's broken right now? (Or "BOH-enn", as Lil' Man would say.)
Does this kid look broken?

And then there's envy.  Envy of the parents of the kids who talk clearly.  What did they do differently?  Or the friends who have tots who were speaking clearly and using compound sentences before they were 18 months old.  I know every kid is different, and that boys develop slower--I've heard it all.  It doesn't make it sting LESS.  

So...we talked with the pediatrician again, who's making us an appointment with an audiologist, and then an ENT doc if the first appointment seems to indicate a problem.  And we're trying to enunciate when we speak.  We're repeating words back when he mushes them to try and enforce the proper speech.  We're doing all the things.  And maybe someday, our kid will be slightly less imperfect.
Maybe he can't hear, but his fine motor skills are on point.