She does communicate. Like crazy. She told me at dinner, using only the word "woof," that she wanted to clean off her tray and get down the big pad of paper with the dog on it and draw. She constantly gestures for things she wants (dance music, basketball) or wants you to do (sit here, draw, put ketchup all over my carrots). She's much more into motions than words--for instance, an O-mouthed silent "blub blub blub" impression means fish or Goldfish crackers. She knows the word well but won't even try to say it. Why should she when she can act it out? It's like living with a tiny mime. Or being trapped inside a game of Guesstures.
I mean, she just started saying no, instead of just shaking her head, about two weeks ago. A toddler who doesn't say no! Well, maybe I should enjoy that while it lasts . . .
It was suspect #3--'that one'!
Her comprehension is even better than her charades ability. You can have a whole conversation with her and she'll nod and make expressions and point to what you're talking about to let you know she's following you. She can point out almost anything you ask her to in her books. She knows a ton of body parts but only says "teeth." She loves animals but prefers to call them by their noises rather than names. And her memory is ridiculous: she'll go find things where she left them ages ago, and yesterday at church she pulled a friend of ours over to a certain spot to do a little pretending game she'd thought was funny--a month ago.
So like most parents, we think our kid is dang smart, but that's also because other people keep saying to us, "She is so smart!" I mean, I think she is too, but I also know she's not saying as much as other people's even younger kids are saying--so it's been a bit of a nagging worry. I know, but . . . why won't you talk, child?!
Still, at Thanksgiving we made a list of all the words she'd said (with meaning and some regularity) it was almost 50, which is about where an 18-24 month old should be, so I decided we could wait until she turned two and see if she would start putting two words together by then. But she hasn't, other than sort of getting lucky a couple times. Of course, she can put two gestures together like nobody's business.
So our pediatrician told us to call Early Intervention for an evaluation and whatever magical powers they possess. Apparently this is all free (well, prepaid through your taxes, thank you) no matter your income and they even come to your house. I should get a call back from them tomorrow to find out more.
As stupid as I know it is, I can't help feeling like maybe I/we should have been or should be doing something more or different. Are we letting her off the hook with her gestures too much? Not enough reading? (Doesn't seem possible.) Too much TV? (Uh, are you counting football?) White noise machine scrambling her brain? (Oops, now my mom's worried about that.)
Or is it in part because she had 9 months in the womb and 7 months in Ethiopia hearing only Amharic, not English?
Or maybe it just is what it is, and worrying about why will not add one hour to my life or one word to her vocabulary. I'm trying to remember that as I wait for the Early Intervention cavalry to arrive. And I'm remembering to be grateful to have access to such a resource here in the U.S.
And I'm enjoying the sweet sounds from downstairs which will all too soon be gone--the beautiful, mysterious poetry of "Dab be! Abb beee! Dabyee abbayae abbyeeeeeeeeee!"