May 7, 2008
A Tree and Her Boys
I don't care how muddy, how wet, we are going outside as much as possible. See previous blog post and you'll understand, we need outside (baby fighting on the internet? what's next!?). Actually this post is not so much about trees as it is about my boys (duh!). Like trees, Tsega, Bereket, and Sira are beautiful, wise, epic. . . but speechless. They only speak a few utterances and without more skill than a typical one year old. They turn two in late June. By two they should be saying at least 50 words and stringing some together in short phrases. I've blogged about suspected speech delays before HERE and relative immaturity HERE.
Without further ado, I decided to intervene now before our two year appointment and anticipated cues from the pediatrician. I called back our team of infant/child development specialists, the people who worked on gross mobility in those early baby days (blogged about HERE), and brought the boys in for evaluation. The boys, all three, are about the same on many levels. They're about right-on in their receptive language, but I wasn't kidding when I said their expressive language is about like a normal 12 month old. No surprises since they only utter a few words and seem to have little interest in speaking. Sira probably enjoys sound making the most, while Tsega's got the lung power. Learning abilities may be lagging a wee bit as well. Although I have to remember that These People, though they are great and delighted to see our triplets again (always confessing their favoritism for my boys in past sessions), tend to overly emphasize small delays and go by the book. Sometimes it's lack of experience in the child's world. Sometimes it's differences in children and style. They were all worried about Tsega's mobility and he walked before he hit 12 months. But sometimes it is indeed a problematic deficiency, though not unsalvagable in our case, I'm sure. It's hard being a triplet, it affects the fractioned child in complicating ways, it has to.
But the things my boys excel in aren't scored during these test sessions. We deserve big points for overlooked areas. Like their triplet unification approach to problem solving. Like their dramatic talents. Like Sira fake falling and then fake crying. Or Tsega's ability to get into everything and perform acrobats. And then there's Bereket's infamous physical violence against his brothers (OK, I kid, chill!).
But I also wish these professionals would remind us parents not to beat ourselves up. We walk away and start blaming away at ourselves. It's our fault, we should have done this, done that. . . our poor kids, we've been stifling their talents and suppressing their abilities. What poor teachers we are, what poor role models; using the Triplet Thing as an excuse. Triplets, they're Triplets, it's a Triplet Thing, Triplets talk later. Nurture, my babies need more nurture to get them excelling. Because like trees, it's not enough to rely on just sun, nutrients, and water. Love is not enough either. Interaction, they need complex interactions. No tree stands alone.
We're now pushing the sign language, talking storms about what everybody's doing, calling everything by name, talk talk talk, both Jerry and I. I'm changing your diaper, mama's changing diaper, diaper poopy, see poopy diaper, you like new diaper, all done, diaper clean, pee pee clean, yay!, . . .). As far as therapy goes, it's not exactly speech therapy. The therapists will give us more tools to help our boys with language and other areas as deemed needed. And once or twice a month I bring in the boys for, I guess you could say, play therapy. The exciting part is, they will slowly introduce one, then two, then more toddlers into their group so my boys can get properly socialized and have some talking peers. This is exciting because other than 6 and 4 year old neighbors who live close by (and frequent our yard), our boys never get to play and interact with other children. Yes, we live sheltered lives out in the country (which is why we wanted to adopt siblings in the first place). But first they want to work on a few social graces with our children before introducing them to a bigger circle (gee, I wonder why); like putting toys away, no spitting, tucking in chairs, and the likes (we just got them a toddler table for home too and I'm scared--remember we have removed all dining chairs from our rooms because chair tipping (yes, chair tipping, blogged about HERE) and chair scooting all over the house was getting to be too much and a little dangerous for heads and little toes (and very bad for chairs and ear drums). A little scary though, my kids with other defenseless, tender children. You did watch my last video, right? :)
At the same time we are seriously disciplining and trying our best to remain neutral throughout the discipline process (discipline as punishment, that is, it's a tricky word when you think about it). We've armed ourselves with Dr Sears's Discipline Book (Attachment discipline? This guy is all soul, gotta love him!) and Magic 1-2-3. I'm sort of taking a pre-school teacher approach: lots of high-pitched talk, wide happy eyes, and timely time-outs. Hey, I even did a triple time out the other day and it went well (and they looked so cute all lined up together against the nursery wall). The boys don't cry much anymore when they time out, some never did, in fact they smile a little too much during. But it's less about feeling shamed into good behavior and more about taking a little break to reorganize those neurons and inhale a little peace pipe. Typically, they toddle off after their one whole minute is up (yes, just one minute, they are immature, remember) and move onto something else, away from the drama.
But I wish I had a magic cure for the toy fighting. What to do when everybody is tugging a toy in three different directions and screaming and trying to bite? Yes, I know, take the toy away which results in a whole lot of crying into the floor and can leave certain sensitive babies in low low spirits the rest of the day (which means constant holding and slinging for me and then I'm not happy because he's not happy). It breaks my heart because it isn't Baby A's fault that Baby C wanted to take a toy from him. And most of the time I don't know who had it first anyway. Not that it really matters, who had it first. So we are introducing sharing, the hardest thing for toddler babies. Take your turn, now it's Sira's turn, Tsega your turn now, wait your turn, share share share, now give it to Bereket. . . That's why Sira is crying in daddy's arms above, he didn't want to wait his turn to sit up high in the tree. Ah well, maybe it's those times when you "let them work it out", except for working it out with bites, hits, and pulls. It's a Triplet Thing. You try it and see if you don't bite a brother or two . . .