What do you want?

I remind myself to not worry about it - he'll do it at his own time, whenever that is.

But still, every now and again... it hurts.

A few friends and acquaintances have children of very similar age to The Kid, only two or three months apart, and every now and again I get a glimpse into their world, and their wonderment.

"Mummy, does the moon get wet when it rains?"
"What do rocks think?"
"Does the water go bad?"

They batter their parents with questions and wonder at how this world works, trying to make sense of it. Ability to talk allows for such a bridge to form, from the parent to the child, and back.

Meanwhile, we are keeping track of words he's got, as the language therapist suggested. Here, it hangs on our fridge:


Digger. Truck. Cat. Hug.

We celebrate each word as it comes into his vocabulary and excitedly scribble it onto our fridge. We read books together. He points at things and we patiently name them, again, and again, and again, and again.

Horse. Duck. Tree. Cow.

I can see that there is a smart, curious mind behind this boy that doesn't talk; and so do his caretakers. He is gentle, patient and he's got a lovely laugh - he laughs often.

But almost every day we re-play a version of what has happened so many, many times before already:

"I don't know what you mean. Show me!" we tell him and he babbles back in his language, getting increasingly frustrated that we're not getting it. He starts shouting, then crying at us. "I don't understand. What do you want? What do you want???" we keep on repeating, trying to understand, but he stomps his feet, his cry increasing in both volume and... despair, almost, and it then reminds me of that bridge my friends have with their children - the bridge I haven't got.

Every day, sometimes several times a day, we have these loud arguments where he is clearly trying to make himself known, trying to tell us something, but... there's only so much you can do with cat. Digger. Truck. Hug.

Reading the body language, of course. Trying to pick up on cues. Pointing. We do all that. But it's not enough.

I feel that inside The Kid's head there is that same sense of wonderment my friends' kids have, the one that makes them ask, "Does the moon get wet when it rains?" except for my kid, he's got these questions but no-one to answer them - because adults don't understand when he asks.

And it makes me sad to think that one day when he does talk, he may already be past that stage of wonderment he is in now, and I may never get a glimpse into the world that he is in, now.


A few weeks ago when me and The Man were yet again discussing what to do next - where to move, if to move at all, and when - I said to him that ideally I want to be where we're going by the time The Kid is 5 because I don't want to make him start school, only to then pull him out of school again in his first or second year and make him start all over again in some other place, with new classmates and teachers.

To which The Man replied that... probably The Kid won't even start when he's 5. That he can't see him being ready in what is only a year and a half left.

It had never occurred to me before, but now that I think about it - maybe The Man is right. I don't know.

All I know is that we're trying so hard, and sometimes we get very, very tired. When The Man sits back on the sofa, eyes distant with a look I am all too familiar with, I take over and give him a rest. When The Man sees that distant look in my eyes, he lets me shelter in the kitchen, doing the dishes maybe, and tries to sort out The Kid on his own, maybe play a game of Duplo or something.

We celebrate each word as it enters our vocabulary, but sometimes all I really want is to simply understand, "What do you want? What do you want???"

16 comments:

  1. Does the therapist say it's in any way connected to him being multi-lingual? Are there any tricks to help with that?

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    1. Well, there isn't any clear-cut "This is why he does it!" reason - rather, it's a combination of things. For example, being bilingual is known to slow down the onset of speech, yes, and so is being premature or otherwise struggling at birth - apparently the difference of just a few weeks at birth makes for much longer delays later on. He's got what they call "global delay", meaning, he's slow across several areas: slow to crawl, slow to walk, slow to talk. It's likely that he's just "one of those kids" who simply do everything with a delay - in the right order, no problems, just late. But because we don't know that for sure then we're trying to do what we can at this stage because the brain has certain stages of development when language-learning "sticks" the best, and it's to everyone's benefit that he learns the language at a time when his brain "learns" the language the best.

      Hmm, I think I got a little carried away with these explanations... Basically, we're doing what we can! =)

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  2. Anonymous4.9.14

    Ma tean seda tunnet, mu vanem poeg sündis kurdina ja kuigi me õppisime viipekeelt ja püüdsime seda ka kasutusele võtta läks igapäevase suhtlemiskeele saamiseni väga kaua aega. Alles siis, kui ta sai kurtide kooli ja oli iga päev keelekeskkonnas st. viipekeelsete laste keskonnas, hakkas ka tema keel arenema ja igapäevane suhtlemine sai võimalikuks. Aga mu laps sai omale sobivasse keelekeskkonda alles 7 aastaselt ja see tähendas ka et eesti keele kui võõrkeele õppimine muutus väga raskeks, sest kõik peab tulema õigel ajal.
    Ma ei taha väita et su lapsel on kuulmispuue vaid pigem seda, et ta vajaks omaealiste laste keelekeskkonda. Tõenäoliselt on tema jaoks raske praegune olukord, kus kodus kasutusel võrdselt mitu keelt, kui leiaksid eesti või inglisekeelse lasteaia, võiks asi paranema hakata.
    Ma ei ole spetsialist selles valdkonnas, lihtsalt tean, kui õudne on see, kui oma lapsest õieti aru ei saa. Mu suur poeg on iseseisev, käib tööl, pidudel, reisimas, elab oma kodus üksi juba kolmandat aastat, teeb seda mida temaaealised noored teevad aga kui ta meile külla tuleb on isegi veel pragu olukordi, kus ma temast kohe aru ei saa.Meie suhtlemiskeeled on erinevad. Olen õppinud viipekeelt aastaid aga see pole mu esimene keel.

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    1. Ta on nüüd juba poolteist aastat teiste lastega koos lastehoius olnud - mitte täisajaga, vaid pigem ca 25 tundi nädalas. Aasta aega oli kahe lapsehoidjaga (ühe juures kokku kaks inglisekeelset last, teise juures neli) ja nüüd on pool aega senise lastehoidja juures ja pool aega "suures" lasteaias koos 15 teiste lapsega. Et me alustasime lastehoidu tema jaoks väiksemate rühmadega ja nüüd oleme ta suurde rühma pannud, sest ta on sotsiaalselt tugevam ja ei kao enam suures rühmas ära, oskab enda eest seista ja olla.

      Nii et inglise keel on tal selles mõttes üsna laialt kasutusel, erinevate inimeste kaudu, aga eesti keel on küll ainult minuga, pluss vahel Skype-i kaudu minu perega.

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  3. Anonymous4.9.14

    I just wanted to suggest the same idea. Being in bi-lingual family (in US), my kid didn't speak much till she was 2,5 as it was confusing for her and the kids in school and frustrating for her, me and my husband to understand each other. We had the same kind of spills and not understandings. As hard as it was, I let the Estonian go (just to mention, I am not suggesting that here, I'm just saying how it was for us), specially after I had been gone to conference for a week and my mother-in-law had worked on my daughter's English skills. Her speaking approved tremendously and I finally gave up fighting speaking Estonian with her when she was little bit over 3 years old. Now she is about to turn 4 and seems to be interested in Estonian again and asks every once and while how I say some things.

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    1. I have considered that, too, several times... If I had known from the start that there was going to be such a delay in speech then I would've just used English with him right from the beginning and said, "Sod Estonian!" But it's a bit of a hindsight now. At the time, I simply did not know, and could've not known.

      In general, being bilingual isn't considered THAT big of a problem, it's just expected then that the child will start talking later - but here we're really looking at quite a delay now, so it's not just being bilingual, it's probably several things at once. He's 3 years and 5 months now.

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  4. Mõned faktid:
    *enneaegsed lapsed hakkavad hiljem rääkima
    *raske sünni läbi teinud lapsed hakkavad hiljem rääkima
    *kakskeelsete perede lapsed hakkavad hiljem rääkima
    oma töös olen sarnaste olukordadega palju kokku puutunud. see on väga hea, et külastate logopeedi (vähemalt 2 x nädalas?). saan aru, et Poiss käib ka päevahoius ja puutub regulaarselt kokku eakaaslastega? kui nii, siis hea oleks, kui ta teistega mängib, osaleb ühistegevustes. kui mitte, siis pigem probleem.
    nii et kõik, mida praegu teete, on õige. see kakskeelsus ongi väga keeruline asi. kui veel on muud segavad faktorid lisaks, siis keeleline areng võtabki kaua aega.

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    1. Ei oskagi midagi muud vastata, kui et... jep, jah, ongi nii, ja teame =)

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  5. Kusti5.9.14

    See kõik võib äkki muutuda. Meie õigel ajal kergelt sündinud ja ainult eesti keelega kasvanud lapse sõnavaras oli kolmeseks saades aitäh. Ei mingit oma keelt, ei koogamist ega lalinaid me temaga pole kuulnud. Ja ka meie kirjutasime sõnu üles, käisime kord nädalas logopeedil, lugesime raamatuid, rääkisime, tegime mänge, lisaks nimisõnadele tõime mängu ka tegusõnad, tegime lihastele harjutusi ja nii kasvatasime kolme kuuga sõnavara ca 15 sõnani. Siis tuli suvi ja puhkused ning sügisel taas logopeediga kohtudes lapsele teste tehes oli tulemus, et kõne mõistmine ja ka aktiivne sõnavara (mõistmine on alati häid tulemusi andnud) on oma ealistest ees ja rikkalik. Nüüd treenime häälikuid, sest vaikides jäi see külg treenimata.
    Lihtsalt tahan öelda, et rahu ja küll kõik tuleb omal ajal või natukene hiljem. Aga tegeleda tasub, sest see aitan nii lapsel areneda kui ka vanema närve rahustada :)

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    1. See on see tulevikku vaatamise asi, et tagantjärele on jah lihtne öelda, et "ta hakkas ise rääkima" (seega polnud vaja muretseda) või ei "näed oli vaja varem tegelema hakata kõne kaasa-aitamisega" (seega oleks pidanud rohkem muretsema) - aga tulevikku vaadates ei tea ju. Ei tea, kas hakkab korralikult rääkima, või tuleb üle kivide ja kändude paar aastat turnida, või isegi pikemalt. Ja siis ongi paras tasakaalu hoidmise harjutus, et ühest küljest temaga tegeleda, aga teisest küljest rahulikult võtta, et muretsemine närvirakke ei põletaks...

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  6. Just to share my experience with bi-lingual kids: I have two of them. Our environment is quite similar - my husband is German with only very limited Estonian knowledge and vocabulary, childcare is in German, all my relatives live in Estonia. So only me is talking to kids in Estonian (+ to grandparents via Skype). Both of my kids started speaking a bit later then their friends in similar age. And both of them will not speak pure Estonian in this only German-speaking environment, but they understand Estonian and the elder one is speaking simple Estonian with German grammar. On days I'm working until evening they only speak in German. And I see how difficult it is to them to answer then, after 10 hours of only-German, at least some words in Estonian.
    So I think that the second language didn't hinder them to learn correct German but it was more natural to me to speak to them in Estonian. And it's a emotional stuff for me that I can talk to them in Estonian. Although I'm probably often thinking in German too, to my kids there is an emotional relationship which still is in Estonian.

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    1. When I made a decision back when I was pregnant with him that I would talk to him in Estonian, it was more so for the *understanding* part, rather than talking. I wanted him to be able to keep a connection with my family - to be able to understand it. I was being realistic and knew that given our circumstances (English-speaking environment, English-speaking dad, and Estonian only through mom and sometimes Skype) he was probably never going to have great Estonian. Heck, even my own Estonian has deteriorated considerably since moving here!, and I used to be good at it...

      I was a bilingual kid myself: Russian through dad, Estonian through mom, mostly Russian-speaking town but with Estonian kindergarten and school. I remember people laughing at me when I was a kid, because I would apply Estonian grammar to Russian words and vice versa, it took a while to properly sort the languages into two separate groups in my brain.

      So with my son, I expected that there was going to be a delay, and some muddling through - but I didn't expect the frustration he's got. He is clearly trying to make himself known, and sometimes it's just... well, not working.

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  7. Tere Maria,
    Ma loen su blogi juba pikka aega ja iga kord kui sa teie pojast kirjutad olen tahtnud kommenteerida. Olen kommenteerimata jätnud, kuna pole tahtnud hakata midagi soovitama või oma arvamust avaldama kui ma tegelikult ei tea ju üldse milline see teie väikene mees on või seda keda te täpselt juba näinud olete või mida juba nagunii teete tema aitamiseks. Olen aru saanud, et sul on nendest 'abistajatest' juba niigi villand :)

    Nüüd aga lihtsalt pean kommenteerima, kuna see postitus kõlab mulle kui appihüüe.
    Nimelt ma olen Inglismaal elav eestlane kes on üle 15 aasta töötanud autistist väikeste lastega (hetkel küll ei tööta, kuna tahan oma aja anda vaid oma 5 aastasele tütrele).
    Ma ei proovi siin üldse su pojale mingit diagnoosi panna, kuna ma pole teda kunagi näinud. Küll aga olen ma oma tööga mitmeid väikeseid lapsi rääkima (lugema, kirjutama jne) õpetanud.

    Ma isiklikult ei näe hetkel seal mingit probleemi, et te temaga kahes keeles räägite. Kui ta saab aru nii eesti kui inglise keelest siis otsest probleemi pole. Mul on tunne, et tal oleks sama probleem mis tal praegu rääkimisega on ka siis kui te temaga sünnist peale ainult ühes keeles rääkinud oleksite. Hetkel seega on ta palju paremal järjel, sest 'omad' kahte keelt (seda muidugi juhul kui ta mõlemast keelest aru saab?).
    Hetkel on kõige tähtsam, et te saaksite kommunikatsiooni paikka. Kord kui see on paigas siis muutub ka rääkima õppimine kergemaks.

    Kas teile on sellisest asjast nagu PECS (picture Exchange Communication System) räägitud) kunagi räägitud?
    Mina hakkaks seda kiiremas korras teie pojaga kasutama. Kui seda õigesti kasutada siis see oleks minu arvates teie poja puhul praegusel hetkel ainuõiged asi mida teha et tema ja teie vaheline kommunikatsioon paikka saada ja teie mõlema poolne 'frustration' kaotada.

    Ma isiklikult iga lapse puhul PECS ei kasutaks, välja arvatud kui see on kindel, et laps ei ole füüsiliselt kunagi võimeline korralikult rääkima või viipe keelt kasutama. Samas ma olen väga edukalt kasutanud PESC kui first step to communication and speaking. Kui valesti kasutada siis mõned lapsed võivad nendest sõltuma jääda ja meelsamini pilte vahetada kui sõnu öelda, aga kui neid kasutada vaid üleminekuastmena siis see süsteem on ideaalne rääkima õpetamiseks.

    Ma igaks juhuks ei hakka siin praegu pikemalt sellest seletama juhul kui te olete sellest juba teadlikud.

    Palun ära häbene mulle kirjutamast kui tahad probleemi kellegi kõrvalisega arutada. Mu email on
    castle.knight@yahoo.com
    Ma jookseks kohe teie ukse taha kui ma seal kuskil teie lähedal elaks ja hakkaks selle poisiga tööle :) Kahjuks pean siit kaugelt vaid pealt vaatama :I

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  8. Anonymous5.9.14

    Meil kodus ka kolm kakskeelset last, tegelikult tönkavad kuigi palju veel kolmandat ka, mille omandamine pikemas perspektiivis on siin elades vältimatu. Esimene kaheselt ei rääkinud sõnagi, 2a9k sai juba miskit öeldud, aga ikka veel hädiselt. Nüüd kuueselt ei ole ta teistest minu meelest koolis ei parem ega halvem. Kolmas 2a 3k vanuses rääbib ikka pikki lauseid ja seda kahes keeles. Eks lapsed on lihtsalt erinevad ka, aga ma ise arvan, et kolmas lihtsalt kuulis kogu aeg miskit juttu. Esimese lapsega üksi kodus olles ma väga pikki monolooge ju ikka ei pidanud.
    Koolis-lasteaias on meil siin palju teisigi kakskeelseid lapsi, õigemini ükskeelseid on vaid üksikud (Soomes puhtalt rootsikeelsed lapsed) ja lastevanemate koosolekul esimene välja toodud asi oligi see, et paljude laste keele tase on nõrk..

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    1. Siin on kakskeelseid lapsi üsna vähe - üllatavalt vähe, kusjuures, arvestades kui palju Uus-Meremaal immigrante on. Aasia peredel tundub millegipärast au värk olevat, et laps räägiks väga hästi inglise keelt ja oleks koolis tubli - olen vaadanud, kuidas Hiinast pärit vanemad lapsega inglise keeles räägivad. Indialastel on inglise keel nö teine kodukeel, kuna Indias räägitakse teatud piirkondades seda palju. No ja siis paljud pered on vist nagu meiegi, et üks vanem on inglane/uusmeremaalane/ameeriklane, nii et see "teine keel" tuleb ainult ühe vanema kaudu ja jääb seega üsna nõrgaks.

      Delete
  9. Anonymous12.9.14

    http://opleht.ee/17468-varajase-markamise-tugisambad/
    Selle Õpetajate Lehe artikli viimases kolmes lõigus on ka juttu alakõneliste laste aitamise olulisusest.

    ReplyDelete