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Why Its Fun To Have A lot of Kids

alec vanderboom

So my eighteen month old Tess continues to have a lot of hilarious drama attached to herself. One of the things that I've posted about before, is that for more than a year I've been totally freaked out that she might be deaf. Tess had some meds in the NICU where hearing loss as a possible side effect. At eight months old, her audiologist told me that any hearing loss would show up as a speech delay, so I needed run back to the doctor as soon as I had any suspicions that Tess was falling behind.

For the next year, Tess BARELY skimmed by all of her speech milestones. I was watching her like a hawk and kept feeling totally confused by her behavior.  At her last hearing exam, Tess finally got the "all clear." Her doctor said any problems from here on out are clearly a speech problem, not a hearing problem. She gave me some kind of magic number of words for Tess to say by 18 months.

I can't remember now if we needed to add 3 words or 6 words in the next six weeks. Anyway, I came home from the doctor visit determined to "home-school" Tess. I told all my kids, "We are getting Tessy's vocab up to code by March 1st!"

The next six weeks were hilarious. Jon, Hannah and I turned ourselves blue trying to get Tess to talk. We were trying to teach her the word "drink" by holding the milk bottle in front of Tessy's face until she screamed herself into a purple rage. We made those cute baby sign hand gestured. We made up little songs with little dances.


Tess would continue to silently point to exactly what she wanted or needed in life. If you didn't get it to her quickly enough she immediately started shrieking louder than a fire alarm.

Meanwhile, big brother Alex had a totally different result. Alex (age 7) would calmly sit down next to her during a car trip and say "Tess, an owl goes Hoot, Hoot". ONCE. Tess would emerge from her car seat saying Hoot Hoot.

Other times Alex would hold up a stuffed reindeer and say "Reindeer." My darling girl who does not know the words drink, eat, up, or a dozen other useful English phrases, including her two older Sister's names, would cheerfully say reindeer.

It's hilarious right now. My 18 month old is speaking a list of vocabulary words solely taught to her by a seven year old male. There is a long list of animal names. There is "dog". "Meow meow" for our cat. I'm pretty sure we have a reliably accurate "buffalo" and "bald eagle" in the mix. "Shoes", "hat" and "lego."

There is nothing practical like "cup", "milk", "drink", "bottle"--nothing that my Tess can use to calmly communicate to me that she's hungry, thirsty, sleepy or sick.

Instead, my darling toddler constantly informs me where our dog is sleeping or where baby Abigail dropped her hat. However, Tessy's real passion is preparing to go "biiiirrrd" watching. " Mom, a wood thrush!" could easily be Miss Tessy's first clear sentence.

It's so fun to have a lot of kids because honestly, the more I have, the less I know about what is going on inside their heads!