As a speech-language pathologist, I know my fair share about child development, learned while working with little ones who were delightful—and not so delightful—as well as with their enlightening and challenging parents. I’m grateful for my educational background and work experiences, because it prepared me for guiding my own daughter’s development (read: It turned me into a lunatic).
I used to think many of my clients’ parents were a little overzealous, but now I get it. Yes, they were crazy. Because being a parent makes you crazy.
That said, you might be an SLP Mom if …
- You bookmarked a developmental milestone chart on your smartphone. And you check it monthly to make sure your daughter has met—OK, surpassed—each milestone.
- Your life turned into a musical. You sing about everything and constantly narrate your and your child’s daily life so she hears a variety of words and is prepared for language acquisition. Your husband starts calling you Morgan Freeman and/or buys you a sound system with a microphone.
- You sincerely considered buying your child a helmet for when she starts to move around and (god forbid) begins walking too soon, because you developed a deep fear of traumatic brain injuries when you took that class in grad school. Do the words “frontal lobe damage” mean anything to you?
- You’re afraid to clean out your baby’s ears with Q-tips for fear of accidentally going in too far and damaging her tympanic membrane. Yes, they make baby Q-tips, but still. And yes, I still clean out her ears because, you know, earwax is gross.
- You rock your baby gently saying, “arrrrrrrrr.” Not all the time of course, but enough times for her to know how to make that /r/ sound because by god SHE WILL SAY HER /r/ CORRECTLY.
- You mentally track sounds your child already acquired and is currently making. You’re so proud of her for already producing her bilabial sounds and then one day she makes the /s/ sound and you gently pat yourself on the back while silently congratulating yourself on having a genius 9-month-old. Then you wonder if she’s making the /s/ sound with her tongue using her upper or lower alveolar ridge because you’re part of the 20 percent who use the lower.
- You read to your baby daily since you brought her home from the hospital, because you know how important literacy is for learning. Now your little one carries books around every day wanting you to read the same story over and over…and over…and over…and…over.
- When you feed your baby solid foods and she coughs–you think, “Oh, my god–She aspirated.” What you wouldn’t give for x-ray vision just to make sure she swallows safely every time. You also think, “Hmm. Feeding my baby isn’t far off from my days in the skilled nursing facility … sans dentures.”
- The moment you see a sippy cup, you rely on all your self-control to not fiercely chuck it out the window while simultaneously getting on your soapbox informing the general public (read: your family) on why your daughter will not use one. Cue the giggles from the peanut gallery upon hearing the words “normal swallow.”
- While pregnant, you dreamed that your baby came out of the womb speaking in sentences. No pressure.
I can think of few things more exciting than when my daughter started making sounds—other than crying or grunting—and she now babbles and uses some jargon. But I try to remind myself to relish this time when she can’t tell me “no” or argue with me when I explain that watching “Frozen” two times every day is not good for Mommy’s sanity.
Saundra Keech, MS, CCC-SLP, works in public schools—Illinois, California, and Hawaii, so far. She also writes her own blog, The Uncolored Lily. email@example.com