Thumb sucking, being scared of the dark and speaking in an Afrikaans accent ….

I am not really a “get into a group person and do things in a group.”

I am one of those people who knows what I need or want to do, and in most cases I do what I need to do, without being told when, what and how to do it.

I get resistant if I am being dictated to.

With that in mind I tend to avoid the blog challenges that do the rounds.  Partly because I write when I write, what I want to write about and if I don’t have something to say then I don’t.

Blog Challenges require you to be mindful that you are being given a guideline/suggestion/instruction and you must “play along” …. I saw this one floating around today, and I am going to attempt to try my hand at it.

I can’t promise I will do all the posts, on time, and as indicated, but it might help me to get out of my writing funk – and get things out of my head and onto this pseudo page.

Writers Bootcampza is running this challenge for July 2014.

REMEMBER THE GOAL: The goal is to help each other to develop a rhythm of writing, improve on the general quality of your writing and… just write.

Please also read the submissions of other bloggers and leave comments on the writing. Be nice.

Basic rules:

1. Use the topic as a starting point, not as a title. Your title can be anything you like.
2. It’s a blog post, not an essay or a short story. So don’t worry too much about intro, body, conclusion. Just write. You’ll find tips for writing blog posts online.
3. IMPORTANT TIP: If you think you need more time to improve it, stop. You don’t. Just “ship it.” (Thanks Seth Godin.)
4. Use whatever writing style you favour (funny, serious, emotive) or a mix of these.
5. Try to read and comment on at least one other person’s blog post every day of the challenge. Ideally, read more and comment more. That’s the whole point.
6. Set yourself a reminder each evening/morning, to check the topic posted at 6pm SA time (see @Writersbootcmp on Twitter) and book in 30-60 minutes that day to write.

Today’s prompt is :  Even if you know me well, you don’t know this.

As a child I was very nervous and often anxious and filled with a lot of fear.  I am not sure if this is just the way I was or a side effect of my parents rather precarious marriage.  My parents were probably the two people in the world who should never have got married to each other.

Both came from rather “difficult” families and had experienced little in the way of love and affection growing up.

The usual story ensues, and it was young love, or lust and then pregnancy and getting married when my mother was 17.  By 23 she had 3 children, and  a pretty poor support system in my father.  Derick was not a nice person, he was a terrible father, and I fear an almost worse husband and provider.

The short part of it was that I was a sensitive child and with all of this going on around me, I developed a few “coping” mechanisms and side effects.

1.  I sucked my thumb — way past the point where it was acceptable to suck your thumb.  I can’t recall when I stopped, but it was way into primary school.  I would come home after school, and once things were done, I would take my favourite blanket (it was a tartan blanket with tassels around the edges) and lie on the couch.  Pull the blanket up over my mouth to just under my eyes and suck my thumb, whilst I rubbed the blanket’s edge against the side of my nose.  I did eventually stop, but I am not sure how old I was.

I had forgotten that I sucked my thumb until Isabelle found her “doggie” and put her thumb in her mouth, and she does the same thing.  She takes the doggie’s ear and rubs it against the side of her nose.




2. I developed a fairly bad stutter when I was between 5 and 7 years old.  Possibly it was set off by starting school, but I really struggled to get words out.  I saw a speech therapist for about two or three years.  Added to that I developed a “lisp” which is particularly disturbing if your first name has two “s” and “t” sounds in it. It was pretty traumatic.

3.  I went to a speech therapist and she assisted me to slow my thoughts down, and think about what I was saying before I started, and also some calming techniques.  My stutter did eventually disappear, my lisp however is still with me.

4.  The speech therapist that I was sent to was afrikaans – so she made me sound out the “r” in an afrikaans manner.  After a year I had managed to be rolling my “r’s” with the best of them.  My mother was horrified, my very English teacher nearly had a little breakdown. I was hastily assigned to another speech therapist to repair the “afrikaans” accent I had managed to acquire.

5.  I was petrified of the dark for most of my life – and still am on occasion.  It is totally irrational, and it is terrifying.  Not nervous, but silent scream deadly afraid of the dark.  I slept with the light on for many years, and only in high school started to move to the point where I could sleep in my room, in the dark with the room door closed.  I still get a bit panicky if I have to walk through the house in the dark, or venture out into the yard at night.  Hence the reason I avoid watching scary movies if I can.


So that may or may not have been a few things that you may or may not have known about me.  Well now you do.

Remembered some rather important information …

After Isabelle’s “your child is beating up other children” note from school I will confess to feeling that familiar wave of panic that swept over me, telling me the best course of action was ANY ACTION.

I am sure the school meant it only as a progress report, but that is not what I am read I am afraid.

I used google, found a speech therapist and made an appointment – tick done!

I don’t mind running up a ladder sometimes, as I feel useful as long as I am moving.  I have found in my furor to get going I sometimes do not check the ladder before starting, only to realise it has been against the wrong wall all the time.

So I am still running.  I decided to take a wee step back just to ensure the direction of where I am already galloping!

I read comments on my earlier post and I realised I was being hasty.  No, she does need speech therapy assessments – REALLY – but I was using the first therapist that google vomited up.

There was no way to establish (for me) whether it was a reputable practice or whether speech therapy person was qualified and experienced enough to handle what I was about to present her with.

I think thanks to Nikki Heyman who gave me a “just stop and think” moment.  Once I calmed down, drank a cup of tea and shoved a bag of Chuckles (which are ON SALE at Woolworths by the way),  I realised that there was a Speech Therapist and an OT at my older kid’s schools.

Both my kids have used their services since pre-primary, and I have been happy with the assessment, and the progress the kids made.

So I cancelled the “made in a hurry” appointment and I have booked Isabelle first into an auditory test first, and then a few days later into a speech therapy assessment at a practice I am familiar with.

I am almost sure that her speech issue is not related to her hearing – but as I am starting from ground zero, it is better to go in and ensure that everything is where it is meant to be before we start trying to figure out where the symptoms are coming from, and take it from there.

Contributing factors I might not have mentioned:

1.  All my kids have spoken late – though granted not this late.

2.  Isabelle also sucks her thumb which is probably not a helluva help to the speaking thing.

3.  I stuttered as a child and had speech therapy.

4.   First mistake of speech therapy – sending your English child to an Afrikaans speech therapist (please remember this was circa 1977/8) so I came out of that speech therapy rolling my r’s and with a more guttural tone to some of my words.  My mom and grandmother nearly shat themselves, and I was hastly sent back to another teacher to try to fix that little problem. Everyone was so busy trying to make me not speak like someone from the Boland, they forgot to notice I lisp my “sssss” which is unfortunately considering my name, and the result is that I often have to say my name 2 or 3 times for someone to hear it correctly.

The worst I have even been called is Chester!


{Kennith took this photograph of Isabelle im December ….. one of my favourites, gets her forehead with the worry frown on it perfectly}

My child does not speak …. at all!

Isabelle is at a really terrific school, she has been there since January this year.

Isabelle turned three in June.  All good.

I might have spoken about this earlier on my blog, but the “strange” things about Isabelle is that she refused to move to solid food when she was younger.  We had been on pureed food until August/September 2011 – pureed to an inch of it’s life.

It was not that she picky about food, you could get it in her mouth.

But if the food you gave her had a texture i.e. even mashed potatoes, she would gag, gag, and then projectile vomit it out.  When this happens – several times – you start to feel that fine pureed food is easier.  You are less likely to be digging chunks out your hair, so you go with what is easier, and does not require a kitchen spray down mid-way through a meal.

The result was she ate yoghurt, and pureed vegetables.  I could not add meat to the vegetables as it would give the puree a grainy feel and if it went in to Isabelle you could pretty much guarantee it was going to come straight back out again.  On you.  On the cat innocently walking by.

That got sorted (probably more because Kennith decided to step in as he was frustrated) and now she is on normal food and that seems to be okay.  She is more likely to eat vegetables than meat, as I only introduced meat late last year.

There is nothing wrong with her growth, weight and size.  She is big for her age, both in height and weight. Her development is fine, she moved off nappies and got through nights without nappies or wet beds much earlier than our other two.

But she is a fair sized girl. I purchase clothes in the 4 – 5 age range, and some shirts go off Georgia (who is 7) and straight on to Isabelle.

Let’s just say you would not describe her as petite!

Once we got over the food issue, then it gave me time to start focussing on the other things that were just not “quite right.”

Isabelle does not speak.  I am not suggesting she does not sounds, she does, and they are audible from 100 kilometres away, but she does not form words and speak.  She has maybe 4 – 5 words that she says “MUM” “Oof” “Da” “peez” and that might be about it.

I sort of understand what she is saying by the tone of what she says, but no one else does.

I have tried not to panic and run around like a headless chicken.  I used the logic that all kids develop on a different scale and rate, so I should just be patient.  Worked quite well up until now.  Very “mature universal mom” thing going on here.

I got a report from her school – which I forgot to read and which lay on the kist unopened for about 4 weeks.  I saw a note at the school with ticks next to the children’s names whose reports had been returned.  Of course I said quietly to myself “reports, what reports? ….shit ….”

Found report and read through and was a bit alarmed.

The school has raised some concerns (it was in a red bold font) that Isabelle has not progressed with speech in the last 7 months.

She is still not making words.  She is making sounds that are not linked to any words (spoken outside Star Trek!) and worse, because she cannot communicate she is showing signs of aggression and getting in to scuffles with the other kids.

Cripes – my kid has become THAT kid who is beating up/on other kids up for the crayons.

I am a bit alarmed.  I am not blind to the problem, but I have been patiently waiting and thinking, no worries, she will get there.  SHE WILL GET THERE.

When I look over the list of what are considered “average” speech development milestones for a 3-year-old – Isabelle has reached none of these milestones – NONE:

Vocabulary around  150 words. (nope, barely makes 5 words, and those are not even super recognisable)

Able to give name, age and sex. (nope …..)

Produces 3-5 word sentences. (er …. still nope)

Marks plurals and possessives. (right ………… I think we are aiming a bit high on this one ……)

Uses verbs ending in –ing, e.g., “walking, running, etc. (cripes ….. do I get points if she actually is able to walk and run and jump?)

Answers questions with “yes” or “no.” (well she grimaces and screams …. actually she does sort of make an “essss” sound and a “nooohhhhhh” sound, so you know hat I am going to take this one as a tick in the positive direction)

Begins to use descriptive words, e.g., big, hot, color words, etc. (skip this question…..I am feeling somewhat perturbed right now..)

Begins to express feelings. (she expressed her feelings, but in interpretative dance …. no words required)

I have made an appointment with a speech therapist for an assessment.

I was hoping to wait a bit as we are in that wonderful medical aid self payment gap, but I also think I can’t afford to wait 2 – 3 months and address it then.

I do believe that every month that goes by whilst we do not address the situation will affect her in future development milestones.  The risk with Isabelle is that her speech developed issues may knock on learning development problems that are really going to come up and smack us in the face when we are trying to get her ready for Grade R.

Speech therapist assessment booked for next week Wednesday.

Yes, I am somewhat worried that my baby is a bit of a pumpkin head and this speech thing is robbing her of some development experiences she should be enjoying, and isn’t.

{insert huge mommy guilt!}