This story begins with the pandemic. I recently had my daughter tested for speech therapy. She’s two and doesn’t say much. If I’m being honest, I feel like it’s my fault. She was four months when the pandemic started. One of the first cases in Indiana was a grade-schooler not far from our house. It freaked me out, and I immediately pulled her out of daycare. I never imagined that she would stay home from March 2020-July 2021, but she did. For over 18 months, we were all home. My husband spends most of his day in meetings, so childcare feel mostly on my shoulders. Along with my daughter there was also her brother, who was also doing e-learning. I forgot to mention that I was also working full-time and working on my Master’s degree. Needless to say, the TV became her babysitter.
With my oldest, I didn’t let him watch TV until he was well over a year old. I read to him multiple books every night. We talked in full, complete sentences. There was no baby talk in our house. He started talking around 10 months and by 15 months could speak in full sentences. My sweet girl didn’t live in that world. While we didn’t do baby talk with her, she absolutely watched TV. We started with Blue’s Clues, then found The Wiggles, next came Baby Shark, and then Peppa Pig. This list could go on, but I’ll stop. And as for bedtime, we sometimes read a story, and we sometimes didn’t. We most definitely didn’t read more than one.
She could whine and I would figure out what she wanted, sometimes she’d point, or if she wanted a snack, she’d stand next to her high chair or go stand in the pantry, and if she wanted to watch TV, she’d bring the remote. I needed her quiet so I could work, help her brother, or just have a few moments of silence, so I quickly picked up on what she needed.
This is where my guilt comes into play. I feel like I abandoned my baby for 18 months. She’s 2, so 18 months is a large chunk of her life. She didn’t get the same mommy from me that her brother did, and now she’s paying the price. I can’t help but wonder if I read to her more, if I paid more attention, and didn’t let her sit idle in front of a TV would she talk more. Its hard to listen to her babble, when I know she has something to say, but she just cannot communicate it.
The results from the evaluation were as expected. She should start speech therapy in the upcoming weeks. I am excited that she will be able to verbally communicate with us. If she anything like her brother and dad, I know once she starts talking, she won’t stop. I can’t wait for the day where we play the quiet game to see who can be quiet the longest. I’m still working my way through the guilty feelings, and I probably will for awhile. I know in the grand scheme of life this is a small hiccup, but I can’t help but think what I could have done to avoid it. I know she has a lot to say and with the help of her speech therapist, she’ll soon be able to tell us.