Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Banshees

So, it has been a bit of a rough developmental time here at the Yates house. Amidst all the toddler fun that is occurring , well, the boys have gone pre-verbal and that is shaping up to be one of the bigger challenges we have experiences. I meant to go read up a bit before writing, mind you, I learned all this stuff waaay back in PT school, but I did not. So, as of right now, the boys have words (never counted, but not a whole lot), twin speak or toddlerese…you know, the unique language they seem to develop when they learn they have voices...and screaming.
Banshee scream
Screaming, folks. Loud, loud screaming. Of which they can control but choose to use. And not judiciously.

I understand their dilemma. Their comprehension is through the roof, they understand receptive language almost too well. I have had to curb some of my less than stellar phrases and we spell quite a few things in their presence (like O-t-t-e-r P-o-p-s).

The limits of their spoken language, their need to tell us what they want, well, it must be frustrating. I watch as Mason now hesitates when he comes to a truck or bus in his books, wanting to say the right word and knowing ‘car’ will come out. He looks at us and tries, but then perseverates on ‘car’, gets pissed, and then screams. He has a pretty low threshold in the frustration area. That would be directly due to my genetic input. Sorry, Mace.

Owen is different. He does not hesitate at all when it comes to using his repertoire, casually throwing his words, identifying any and all animal as ‘dog’, oblivious to his generalization. But the kid likes to yell, then scream when he gets excited or wants to direct my attention. And that can be a lot of the time.

So, we muddle along. I have found using repetition and modeled conversation does help, at least to save some of my sanity. I usually start the conversation with a
“What do you need, M/O, water, snack, etc…”
“Yes, Mama, please can I have a ….”
“Sure, Mace, just let Mama get it out of the cabinet…etc”
Sounds pretty reasonable, huh? Now back up and read again imagining two screaming banshees screeching at the top of their lungs…yeah, the conversation can sound a little silly then. But it gives me a focus point. When that does not work, we do a ‘Time Out’ for excessive screaming. And not proud to say it, but I have shouted a few times. That really does get their attention, for the moment, anyway.
A car

I do not want to paint it as total bedlam, but the last few weeks have been trying, those few ‘melting’ hours bringing forth a lot of their frustrated vocalizing. There is one thing it has also brought forward. I tend to think a lot during these times, during those moments of calm, about my Self and my parenting. I realize I can trend towards the thought…”If they would just…get through this, have more words, be able to speak, just not, um, scream”. But what that makes me realize is it can cause me to miss that Here and the Now…because they will pass through this and I want to remember it, painful as it may be.

To end on a lighter note, one neat part is deciphering the words they are using. For the last few weeks Owen has been wandering around saying “Abby, abby, abby, abby” at random moments. I tried to figure out what he was associating the word with, looking for objects or actions. Well, last night, Tim and I were watching them bathe, I asked Owen to swim and he laid down, kicking, laughing and saying ‘Abby’. I looked at him and asked him, “Are you saying ‘Happy‘?”. And he turned to me and smiled so big, so wonderfully, so happy, and nodded his head. I died.
Really, Mama, a barette?
(Yeah, I put that barette there? So?)(He is going to kill me someday).

And Mason, though occasionally hesitant to use words with books, has no such compunction during other activities. We have decided his running litany is in French and it sounds really, really interesting. He makes the simplest of actions intriguing, talks to and about his brother a lot, and cocks his head with this inquisitive look that just about kills me. The other day we were doing body parts and I asked him to show me “Mama’s nose” (he usually does his own body parts) and he looked at me like “Why?’.
Mace on Baldy

So, I am trying to remember to embrace moments, breathe deeply and I ask, any advice out there for other strategies, Mamas? Leave it in the comments. Please.

Oh, in this vid if you listen carefully at the beginning, you can hear Owen saying "abby".


Pixiepurls said...

awe, great pics as always. Reading your blog always give me a little preview of my not too far out future, with BG not too far behind. Latley at night she has zero interest in my reading her books at night, or she lets me read half of it and then tries to pull out of my lap. Normally she doesn't fight going to sleep or bedtime so it's interesting to see her start to put things together and then resist. The past few weeks if you remove something fro her or someplace she will throw herself backwards as hard as possible.. normally when you go to pick her up which of course makes it very hard to pick her up. Trisky little things.

gleek said...

C says "abby! abby!" too! i just recently figured out that it meant happy :) do you have any picture books? C's vocab really improved when we started reading those everyday, pointing to pictures of real things, and repeating what they were. sesame street has helped too as well as baby sign language. C communicates pretty well now :)

Pete and Shelley said...

Great post. When I was pregnant, one of my best friends told me "Don't wish away time". That really stuck with me. So, everytime my I catch myself saying "I can't wait until they can ______", I think of that phrase. It's so exciting to watch them learn that it's hard not to think ahead at what will come next!

LauraC said...

On the screaming front, we used sign language a lot to get through that time. Nate has always been verbal but Alex has always lagged. Even if you don't know the signs, you can make them up. Even now when Alex gets excited, he reverts to signing bc his body prefers to communicate through action.

Nonnahs said...

So cute! Should I get the boys a "Foot Book"? ;) They will get better about vocalizing...and then you will melt on a daily basis!

Claroux said...

Wow...where do I begin? Your insight into their frustrations and developmental stages is nothing short of brilliant. The screaming is tough, huh? Chloe had (and still has) this scream that I swear could break glass. J used to joke that the dolphins were beaching themselves down the street when she would scream (since we live by the bay). I have found my BIGGEST success in dealing with anything that involves unhappy twin toddlers has come from many many years of working with schizophrenics (oh, the irony): REDIRECTION. I have tried my best to understand their body language and voices but when all else fails I totally redirect the hell out of them. It never ever fails. I'm not sure if that's helping in the long run but do I know that our girls are WAY beyond where they should be with regard to language development and just acquiring knowledge in general - so I'm not worried. They are generally very polite and pleasant little girls. Unfortunately I can't think of any redirection examples right now b/c my brain is toast. Maybe that will be my next blog post - ways to redirect twin toddlers!!!! OH - and I know this is really long BUT... your section of the post on not wishing time away. That SO hit home - a million times over. I spent the entire first year - and then some - doing that. And I wish I could get it all back. I make a conscious effort every day to cherish every. single. moment. It's SO important and SO easy to lose sight of in this insane world of raising twins that we live in. Awesome post!!!

Bea said...

Aaaah, such a timely post, we are just on the cusp of Robby being verbal, and things have gotten better, but it's still been kind of rough, coupled with him entering this extraordinarily independent phase. Robby's pre verbal coincided with his last molar coming in, so he was biting kids at school on a regular basis, he finally stopped a few weeks ago, and it coincided with him starting to imitate a whole lot of what we say! Robby doesn't scream so much, but he does whine, oh the whining, and the leg clinging...sigh...

Good luck girl, once you get out of this phase, you'll be amazed at how the boys will rocket far beyond where you thought they would be, enjoy the non screamy times :D