Before I got pregnant, I would get really annoyed at parents who would go on and on about all these great things their kids could do. Like, “Oh, did you see that little Jimmy knows how to eat with a fork now? He’s obviously going to Harvard.”


I just thought, “What’s the hurry?” Sure, we all want our kids to realize their full potential and lead happy and fulfilling lives, but does knowing how to walk by 9 months mean that’s going to happen?

Then the comparisons started.

“Oh, Jimmy knows how to use a fork? Did I tell you that Sarah can sign Czechoslovakia?”

OK, so that actually would be impressive.

Still, I just thought, “Settle down people! There’s no race here.” I actually kind of pitied these kids who I thought would have to grow up with overbearing, demanding parents whose expectations would never be met.

“A B?!? How dare you, Jimmy! How DARE you! Don’t you know that you were walking at 9 months? Is this really the best you can do?”

I swore when I had Quinn that I wouldn’t stress about what she could or couldn’t do, that I wouldn’t subject her to comparisons to other kids. All things will come in time. She’s a smart, lively little girl with a ton of personality and a sweet spirit. What’s there to improve?

But then it happened.

It started with our birth class BFFs. One little girl in our group was born two weeks before Quinn. The other little girl was born three days after Quinn. They were all developing along at the same pace, more or less, until around the end of the first year. Now, halfway into their second year, they are a world apart. One little girl can do a bunch of signs and say “Mommy” and “Daddy” with articulation and propriety. The other little girl can name all her favorite Sesame Street characters, say the sounds that all the animals make and even order her own breakfast. And those are just a few of the highlights.

When these things first started happening, I thought, “Well, I guess that Quinn will start doing these things soon.” When she still didn’t know more than a handful of words at 15 months, I didn’t think there was something wrong with her, I thought, “What the fuck are we doing wrong?”

Seriously. Are we the worst parents ever?

But I thought, “No, no, you’re just worrying too much. Everything is OK. She will develop in her own time.”

Then I started talking to a friend whose son is in speech therapy, and I asked her when they started to notice that things weren’t quite right and had him evaluated. She said 19 months. That’s one month older than Quinn.

Then I really started to worry.

So I started reading more. What’s normal? What should she be saying? What are the signs that there’s a problem?

It turns out that there’s no real “normal.” I’ve heard everything from 10 words to 50 words as appropriate for a child her age. I started writing down everything she knows, and we’re up to about 20 words, which seems right in the range for “normal.”

Another good sign is that she’s definitely chatty. She “talks” all the time, even if she’s not saying words. She gestures and articulates with great passion, like she’s in the middle of a heated debate or telling a really amazing story — which she probably is.

Quinn Talking from Anarchy in the Sandbox on Vimeo.

At some point, I’m sure we won’t be able to get her to stop talking. Until that day…