Monthly Archives: January 2010

Definitions

My kids are at the age where everytime they hear a word for the first time they ask what it means. This is both charming and exhausting, and has spurred some discussions about the nuance of language.

Occasionally Krystal will ask out of the blue what a word means, and I always first ask her where she heard it. She’s come home asking what gay means, and it distresses me to hear that she’s overheard a child at school say “That’s so gay” or “You’re so gay”. Twenty-first century my ass. Who are these kids’ parents?

The other night she asked, “What does whore mean?” And then quickly added, “It’s a bad word, isn’t it?”

I first asked where and how she heard it, since sometimes the context can give me some clues on how to answer. Unfortunately, all she said she heard was another kid asking what it meant. Given it was a new word to her, she had to ask me.

How would you answer that for your child?

I said, “It is not a nice word. Usually it’s used to describe a woman who has sex with lots of different men. Sometimes for money. Which is against the law in most places.”  (Too much? I know – it’s a tough call.)

She said, “Oh. She must really love her job.” Deadpan. Sincere. Innocent.

“No, honey – she doesn’t do it because she likes it.”

“Oh, she doesn’t really love all those men?”

“No.”

Innocence fading. But at least she knew you’re supposed to love someone you have sex with. Can I cling to that?

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Speech: A History Lesson

When I adopted Krystal at 14 months of age, I had a full evaluation done by our state’s Early Intervention office to gauge her development in a host of areas: gross motor, fine motor, receptive speech, expressive speech, etc. She was at or above age level physically, but as might be expected from a child with an abrupt language shift, her receptive speech was way below age level (she was too young to worry much about expressive speech).

So she started seeing a speech therapist weekly. It only took a short time before her receptive language was completely normal, but by that time it became evident that her expressive speech was lagging. When she spoke it sounded like she was underwater, although she was saying lots of words by then.

A few months later we moved to a different state, which necessitated a new evaluation. By then she was 20 months old, and I was surprised when I checked off about 50 words that she was saying. Even though our old speech therapist had written a letter detailing what she believed were her continued speech needs, the new evaluation said she was on track.

Since then I have asked every teacher and her doctor about her speech, and the answer has always been some version of, “She’s doing fine, just give her some time to catch up.”

When she started public school in first grade I requested a meeting with the speech therapist at the school. She agreed Krystal had some areas of concern, but she didn’t qualify for any in-school services. She gave us some exercises to do at home to work on the “sh” sound, and by the end of the school year that was no longer a concern.

In second grade the “r” sound started being an issue. We again met with the school speech therapist and she again said it wasn’t bad enough to get in-school services, but she gave us more exercises. You know how the parents are the only ones who understand what a two year old is saying? Well, not only did I sometimes have to translate my then 7 year old’s speech for others, but there were (too) many times when even I wasn’t sure what she was saying. Her classroom teacher commented that she thought she just had an accent (!). Not bad enough for services? How bad does it have to be??

This year, in third grade, I brought it up at the parent-teacher conference in November. While the actual evaluation wasn’t done til just before the Christmas break, she now qualifies for in school services. I just got an email from her classroom teacher saying her therapy would start on Tuesday. Nearly two months after I raised it as an issue, but I’m happy to finally be getting some traction on this!

So that’s Krystal’s speech history. Seeing as how she is starting to get teased by her peers, I’d say it’s about freaking time.