Nov 13, 2007

The Triplet Unit

I'm worried Jerry and I are treating the triplets as, well, The Triplets; as if they are one unit and not three individuals. Like at dinner last night. Sira wasn't hungry, Tsega sort of picked, and Bereket ate like he cared (Sira, it's the same polenta you loved last night, just colder and the garlic has really seeped in--eat!). I started to shut the whole show down when I realized I let majority and even minority rule rather then catering to individual needs. Same with sleep. I see a pair of eyes get rubbed and everybody goes to bed. This has worked well because who wouldn't want three babies of same age sleeping and eating at the same time; how else can the parents catch some breath and keep chaos minimal. . .

This is a problem. I've been skimming many blogs lately, doing the deadly developmental comparisons (the "her kid does this, my kid does that" thing) and I've concluded at 16 months our boys' language is not coming as it should. Their word list is at about four (nana (=banana) and dada being the strongest, most consistent words). The triplets mimic and mock us and each other, but will stop short at using meaningful words. Doc says 50 (50!?) words by two and no worries about intervention until then. We have time, language isn't officially delayed as of yet. (And this is only one of about 5 major worrisome things concerning the boys currently stewing together in my worry wart head.)

The problem is Jerry and Me, I believe. We talk to the unit, cuddle it, play with it, read and sing to it, feed and rest it. But Tsega, Bereket, and Sira each need more one-to-one time where intimate conversations and story times take place at a less rapid and chaotic pace and no brothers are around to snatch books out of hands or fall over in between me and said baby. Language delays are common in triplets partly because of this unit treatment by parents. More common than in twins and I suspect more of a problem when the triplets (or more) don't have older siblings or daycare peers to pattern after. Seems everytime I'm trying to get some quality time with a receptive baby, trying to read a story or name things around the house or just talk, I have to stop and help another baby up from his fall or tell the other baby to stop banging the glass. Seems like in between all the playing, exercise, sleeping, soothing, eating, and "processing" as I call it (diapers, baths, etc), there's no time left. There I'll be babbling along with the rest of them (it's fun!), letting them climb all over me, smothering them with kisses and coos, or watching mesmerized as they waddle around together in the yard. But I'm not saying much, not labeling, not pointing enough out. Like my jaws are too tired (maybe all that kissing).

I heard of some 2-parent families occasionally breaking up twins so that each parent gives/gets the one-on-one, but this won't work for triplets, obviously. Then I think, well I'll take two and Jerry can take the other one weekend a month. . . when we're not tiling showers and sanding sheet rock (when is that?). But then I get into this dilemma about which two to chose, or we could rotate but then it only amounts to a few days a year. . .

Truth is, I love being with everybody, all three babies plus Jerry, although at the same time I'm always longing for more time with each individual child (and husband). I've often wondered lately what Tsega, Bereket, and Sira would be like as singletons. How different they would be, how different we would treat them (but then there would be no "them"). But in this life, they come together. All for one and one for all, my mighty united sibling front!


Tsega! (I know, the hat's not working. . . Jerry says he's got no ears)


A conversation about the header photo above. . .
Cindy: Why are all the kids in the toy box [boy box?]?
Jerry: Because they climbed in.
Cindy: Why are all their toys out of the box?
Jerry: Because they pulled them all out.
Cindy: Oh.

And that's Sira in the striped shirt (by reduction you should figure out who's who among the rest of the triplet unit).


Dawn in NC said...

Cindy, I'm not a mom, but I'm an aunty to 4 born within 5 years (no, not the same as multiples, I know), I wanted to try to have you give yourself a bit of a break!
My brother's youngest really didn't talk until he was FOUR AND A HALF (just baby talk and lots of sounds and hand motions). The other siblings would translate for him for everything. They live out in the country, like you, and didn't do any intervention at all. I was absolutely in a panic about it, but they said that he would talk when he had something to say, and they were right! As soon as he did start talking, he was almost immediately speaking in complete sentences and age appropriate. Today, that nephew (11 years old) is like any other kid his age (well, of course, in my biased opinion, he is much more advanced) and can read ANYTHING, not just kids books.
Give yourself and the boys a break. I'm sure others more knowledgable than me will tell you more about "twin-speak", etc, and with no other older kids in the house, and a triplet-centered world, a good bit of speech-delay would be perfectly normal!
Give yourself a break and just enjoy all the wonderful happy chaos that is yours. You're doing great!

Lori's Light Extemporanea said...

Ditto what Dawn said about speech development. For one thing, they're coming from another culture with a vastly different language. Number 2, they're boys. I've been told that boys develop at a slower rate than girls and that has been the case with my twins.

This may or may not work with you, but here's what we have done to circumvent the "I don't get individual parent time" problem. One parent each week has one-on-one time for 30 minutes with each child. The child can select anything (within reason) of interest to do with said parent and no other sibling allowed.

I know it's only 30 minutes a week but it's a start and our children really look forward to their "time" with the parent.

Angela :-) said...

Perhaps you could try letting each boy stay up 30 minutes later than the others at nap or bed time once each per week.

Angela :-)

Malia'sMama said...

I agree with the first poster! I'll be the boys are just storing up language that is going to come bursting out one of these days. MalĂ­a is a singleton, however, I notice in her that she'll just pop out with something new one day so totally unexpected that did not get "taught", or "coached". I will just bet that one of these days, one of them will say, in a full sentence, "Uh, Mom, Holden Caufield is not an appropriate role model." ;) (If I have to teach that book to grade 12 generals one more time and have the is the "F" word in his mind, or really there convo one more time, I am going to lose it! lol

Zach and Erin Kennedy said...

I found your blog out there some how and your boys are beautiful!!! My husband and I have 3 year old twins and an 18 month old and we are also adopting from Ethiopia. Just wanted to let you know that for us the individual time came more frequently and easier as they hit about 2 years old. I wouldn't worry to much about it right now. Also all three of my kids seemed slow to talk, especially our youngest who still only has about ten words but for us they took off talking like crazy and repeating everything at about 18 or 19 months.Hope that encourages you a little. I love reading your updates. You have a beautiful family!!