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Katy England Katy England
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edge staff writer


Divided attention

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Don't compare your kids to other kids, your own kids or anything else. That's the general consensus when it comes to kids reaching milestones. Don't compare. Don't contrast. Don't, don't, don't.

The problem can arise when you think there might actually be a problem with your kid reaching a milestone. You have a lot of people loving, helpful, kind people telling you not to compare your kid to anyone, ever. It's something I'm brushing up against firmly now that I think one of my beans has a speech delay.

Speech delays are not uncommon with multiples. You have more toddlers at the same time all vying for your attention. You only have so many arms, legs, laps and hours in the day. Your average 2-year-old should have around 50 words in their vocabulary. We're not talking 50 flawless words, pronounced with an articulation that all can understand. But when my son calls his excavator an 'echo,' that counts as a word. When they say 'nuk' for 'milk,' that counts as a word. If they gesture for more, that counts as a word.

The thing is, when I bring up my concerns with friends I get a lot of the aforementioned 'don't compare' jargon along with anecdotes about how a sibling, child, second-cousin-once-removed didn't speak at all until they were 5, but then spoke in full sentences. This is fine and dandy and comes from a place of love and concern. 

But I also know my kids. I spend lots of time with them - more time than their pediatrician, more time than the speech therapists who observed my child, more time than my friends and family. I win when it comes to how much time I spend with my kids (my husband wins too; we pretty much split it up). And I know something's up.  

I remember when one of my girls wasn't feeling well, she had a slight fever, but it was more than that. She wasn't herself anymore. Our happy baby was replaced with one who fussed and was just plain sad. When she saw us, she tried to be happy, but would dissolve into tears. We ended up going to the ER and learned later she had a urinary tract infection. I remember the ER doc looking at me and saying that he trusted moms and dads, because we know what they don't. We can tell not because we're psychic or better than the average Joe, but because we have access to more empirical evidence than anyone else.

And if I can do something to help her out, I will. I mean, it's already hard enough for the kids who have to deal with parents with divided attention. And I'm not looking for a pity party, but I am a bit of a realist. You have three toddlers, much of the time one parent at a time. Things slip. But, though I want to fix it, I'm not fixated on it. Other than being behind her siblings, she's a bright, engaging, and lovely kid. The delay doesn't speak to me of darker times, just some extra work. 

I know, I know, I've heard the joke: we spend so much time teaching our kids how to walk and talk only to keep telling them to sit down and be quiet. This will seem amazingly funny in retrospect when I get backtalk.


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