How I hated that phrase, and then, at some point in the last few months it happened. At LB's developmental appointment in late September (22m), she had fewer than twenty words that she spoke without prompting. Now she must know hundreds. She asks for her books by name, and her toys, and her DVDs. She knows the names of all the foods she eats regularly and all the people in her life. Last night, I was reading to LB and I had to pull apart some sticky pages. LB grabbed the page and said "Rip! Book rip. Harry rip." She managed to tattle on two of her school friends using words. She told us that our dog is cute. Amazing!
Back when it seemed like LB would never walk, I worried. I worried that she wouldn't walk, or talk, or put stupid pegs in a pegboard, and I also worried that her childhood would enfold like a scene from Dicken's Hard Times or Walden Two, as every moment of our living became an opportunity for training. I do want LB to learn, but I also want her to relax, to be silly, to do her own thing, to eat candies and watch Elmo, to have a life of little joys. The worst of our developmental doctors pushed something very different, a life of pegboard practice and gross motor exercises divided into half-hour and hour increments. At our last developmental appointment, the evaluator may have actually clucked her tongue at me, as she explained that LB's stair climbing performance was "weird" and would require close monitoring in the future. At the time, LB was able to walk up and down stairs with some effort and a spotter. The stairs at the clinic were a moveable unit that looked like a piece of playground equipment, and LB responded accordingly. She climbed, but she also crawled and slid, and generally acted like a playful Bug. For the evaluator, there was no place on the sheet for a child's organic understanding of an unfamiliar structure.
I'm sure my frustrations with boxes to be checked on sheets will come back in full force once LB is in school, but for now I feel like we are in a good place. As LB learns more and can do more, it's easier for me to feel confident that she can and does learn organically. It's also easier to casually play little games that will build skills, but are still fun for her. It's easier now that we can read books and LB understands them and interacts with them.