Keep calm, you kid will talk.
I know it doesn’t feel that way. I know when faced with your kid’s precocious eighteen-month-old friend who is already stringing sentences together and using words with more syllables than you can manage after another-sleep deprived night, you will feel like you have failed.
This happens to all parents mono or multilingual, though those trying to raise multilingual kids are often actually subtly –or not so subtly– accused of bringing this on themselves. (Which, for the record, is supported by zero research. But who needs research these days?)
The nasty voices that never seem to go away will be haranguing you:
It’s your fault, you shouldn’t have gone back to work.
You should have spent more time describing every small detail like: watch mommy unscrew the cap on the tube of Preparation H – that’s hemorrhoid cream. Now squeeze the tube and apply a small amount to your index finger. See my index finger? And then gently rub…I’ll leave you wondering whether it’s for sagging eyes or sagging innards.
I shouldn’t have stuck her in front of Baby Einstein when I was showering, cooking, walking the dog –yes walking the dog but I assure you she was well strapped in.
You suck as a parent.
Did you really believe you could bring up a multilingual kid? It’s your fault, forget all the studies that say a kid will just develop speech when they are ready and listen to the uptight mother at the Pediatrician’s office who simply ‘knows’ your kid is still stuck on mama and bye-bye because you speak another language to her.
You should have read more, talked more, jumped up and down in a hoop while juggling pacifiers…
You are just innately stupid as you have long suspected and now that is manifesting itself in your offspring.
The myth of multilingual kids experiencing speech delays has been debunked but it’s roots hold strong, like the weeds in my back garden that won’t budge despite my water and pliers. Many folks in positions of authority at schools or your local paediatrican’s are not in the know. They have either not read any research or just can’t help but ‘trust’ their instincts that surely this must be the reason why your kid’s not talking.
I was lucky. My first little Marcel Marceau’s doctor was a fab doctor from South Africa. She did not push me to drop a language. On the contrary, she encouraged me to stick to my guns. She told me when counting vocabulary words at that age, I needed to count each word even if repeated. So if my daughter knew the word water in French, English, Spanish, and ASL, that would count 4 words. With that, she suddenly wasn’t behind as I’d thought. She also wasn’t precocious like her bestie who was nearly reciting shakespearean verse at 18 months, but we can’t all have Einsteins for kids.
So I told my vitriolic voices to pipe down. I still spent hours perusing websites, buying books on encouraging speech, learning sign language, and of course, keeping a positive face in front of all of those wondering why my kid still barely uttered a few words. I tried to recall all the friends I had with early multilingual talkers and all the friends and relatives I had with late monolinguals and, well, just have faith.
And then it happened. She started talking. The floodgates opened and I sat immersed in the tidal wave of words, elated –for about 48 hours before the very awful thought crept into my mind
My God, when is she ever going to stop? She is the Duracell bunny. She just keeps talking and talking and talking and talking and talking…
Careful what you wish for.
Keep calm, your kid will talk. And then they will never shut the f*%$ up.
This post had received a face lift for November’s Raising Multilingual Children Carnival, hosted by The Piri-Piri Lexicon It will be going live Monday November 24th. Please check out all the wonderful submissions and show the writers some comment love!