“I need him to be really bad today.”
I whisper the words to myself as soon as I wake up. I go downstairs and am greeted by two happy boys who hurriedly recite everything that has happened in the fifteen minutes since they have been awake. I listen to my youngest and worry – what if it’s not bad enough. Guilt immediately washes over me. What kind of mother thinks like that? I should be overjoyed that three sentences were clear and didn’t have any hint of a stutter. But I’m not. My anxiety is building, even though I know that it’s foolish. Strangers can’t understand him, even family can’t understand him more than half the time, and honestly, I can’t understand him all the time.
I know that we will go for his speech assessment and the speech pathologist will look at me to translate. That my little dude will do his best to tell his stories and adventures and, every few sentences, I will have to repeat what he has said so that the speech pathologist will have some idea of what he is saying. I know that the report will come with the words SEVERE in more than one category. This morning though, the worry settles in. What if I’m wrong (I know I’m not)? The thought swirls around my head. I won’t say the words out loud. I know if I do that my husband won’t understand why I would even be worried.
I’ll worry anyway. And unlike most morning, I won’t slow my speech down when I am talking to my little dude. I won’t stop him to show him the correct lip and tongue placement on sounds that he might be close to saying clearly. I’ll listen, relieved that he just stuttered again. Counting down the minutes until we get to our appointment and I can stop feeling this contradiction between how I want to feel and how I actually feel.
I don’t know if all parents feel like this. I know that I felt like this with both of my boys. Both have very different speech and language concerns. My oldest was non-verbal until he was three and then there were speech sound concerns. My youngest talked early rushed headlong into word acquisition. He has fluency issues though and speech sound concerns. My oldest has other behavioural concerns that ebb and flow. So I am getting use to this feeling. That crappy feeling when you want your child to show at their worst. Forget mom shaming, this is mom guilt, which is wholly internal. I’ll get over it. I always do. But today this morning, as I watch my little guy building his latest creation while playing the “I love you” game with his dad, I swallow hard and accept that the anxiety, guilt, and fear are mine to feel.
I’m out of time, if I am going to get school bags packs, snack negotiated, and outdoor clothes wrestled on, so I put on my smile and send the thought out to the universe one last time – “Please let him be bad today.”
If you have any concerns about your child’s speech and language development, I encourage you to seek out support early. The majority of supports are available for children between 2.5 and 5 years old. Parents can call 780-408-8793 (Preschool Speech and Language Central Access) to complete an intake and make an appointment with a speech pathologist.
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