What Can You Say?

“How’s she eating?”

“Is she smiling yet?”

“Does she roll over?”

“Is she sitting up?”

“Has she started crawling?”

“What solid foods has she tried?”

“When did she start walking?”

Somehow from the moment you have a baby, every conversation from the stranger in the produce section to dearest friends and family has the potential to resemble an appointment with the pediatrician. Everyone’s so excited and fascinated by the wonderment that truly is child development, they immediately want to get their bearings on where your child falls on the continuum of newly-born-lump-of-crying-wriggling-baby-soft-love-button to full-grown-kiddo-doing-cartwheels-on-the-playground.

I get it. It doesn’t bother me.

I’m generally pretty relaxed about where my little one is developmentally since I figure she has her whole life to learn to live. I did have one freak out moment when mastering the sippy cup felt especially difficult. I suddenly saw a movie-esque montage of her entire future and she was always holding a bottle. Nothing says “Cheers to the happy couple!” like a Dr. Brown’s. 

So besides this and a bizarre Pinterest-induced moment when I realized my 16 month old is not yet ready for kindergarten (shocked? Yeah… why was I?), I think I’ve been pretty laid back about books and charts and milestones.

But lately… everyone keeps asking me the same question. “Is she talking yet?”

And I find myself hemming and hawing a little bit. “Well, she’s wearing us out with ‘mama’ and ‘papa.’ She says the dog’s name…..” Billy and I have had a couple other moments we were certain she said discernible words, but overall… nothing consistent.

Now pretty much everything I read before her birth about raising a bilingual child acknowledged that it might delay her talking. I was totally prepared for that… right up until it may have happened. Now I’m wishing she would talk and stop just pointing and grunting in frustration. And I have these fleeting moments, when I think Stop the Spanish! We’re going to get this girl on track! She’s got kindergarten in four years!  But then I come to my senses and remember that every kid goes at their own pace and this is the right pace for her and our desire for her bilingual development.

I am also surprised at how I feel a need to remind people that we are raising her with two languages and that I totally expected this delay. I guess that’s my insecurity talking.

Now, I’m not writing all this to elicit reassuring comments that she’ll eventually talk because contrary to the sippy cup, I have not had a vision of her wedding day when she’s supposed to say “I Do” all she can muster is “Mama?” And I’m still pretty laid back about my parenting because, not to sound too cocky, but I’m pretty sure I’m the best mom Gabriella has ever had. But I just put it out there because I often (self-absorbidly) assume that if I am feeling something, others have felt it too.

So I throw my experience onto this blog to say if you sometimes have insecurities around your child’s development, you are not alone, and it’ll all shake out in the end. And if you are worried about delayed talking around bilingualism, don’t let it stop you! The benefits outweigh any delay…. at least, that’s what I tell myself!


  1. Diane Henley10:35 AM

    Um, yes I think I need to talk to you about this at some point. =o) I was totally committed to raising Anna to be bilingual, speaking to her in Spanish at home, but when it seems like she has been slow to talk and a lot of her words are difficult to understand, I've gotten pretty insecure about it and haven't been speaking to her in Spanish as much. Even though I know it's normal for her to have a delay with two languages. This was good for me to read and reminded me that my insecurity about her delayed speech is not a good reason for her not to be able to grow up to communicate with other who speak Spanish. And that ultimately her worth and mine should be in Christ and not in milestones. =o)

  2. Hey cuñada we where in the same page with JuanI if you remember he was late walking and late talker but when he star on preschool now he talk an talk we talk to him in spanish he anwser in english, he pray in spanish but read the bible in english hehehe!!! Bella is a girl her develoment is going to be better give her some time. The psisicoloyist make some test to JuanI becouse in school they told me that he was slow lerning, turn out he is above the avarege, this month he was the student of the month. So cuñada shering our expirence with you all I have to say keep pushing, leave the spanish to Billy and ofcourse you in english you will see. I was very frustrated and now he cummunicate perfect with his frien in two languages.
    Thank you for the pictures we miss you guys a lot, God bless you

  3. Hi Diane! Yes, we should definitely talk! First of all, I don't think I knew you speak Spanish, which is super cool. I love your comment because I completely relate. Let's collaborate!

    And Jorge, I love how JuanI is going back and forth. He is so super smart! And I definitely leave the Spanish up to Billy por que tu sabes que mi espanol is como un bebe! :)

  4. Hi Sarah! I'm so glad I caught this post. I really admire your laid-back parenting attitude and am trying to follow suit. I definitely tend toward wanting to check off all the developmental milestones and making sure that Johan is on top of them. But sometimes, I think about how he knew almost absolutely nothing when he was born; the fact that he knows as much as he does now (how to smile, who his mommy and daddy are-kind of--, how to cry when he has a need, etc.) really astounds me and makes me happy!

  5. Hello Amy! Oh how I wish I could meet little Johan! I see the most adorable photos online. :) I am so sure you and Arthur are awesome parents. I try to be laid back. Sometimes it works... and then sometimes it doesn't. :)

  6. Hey girl! Catching up on some of your latest posts. Jude was a laaaate talker, and I didn't even have bilingualism to hold up in front of my insecurities! He was 15 months, knew a couple signs, and still hadn't said mommy. I think he might have said ball once or twice and would frequently shout out "Ma" in a nasally tone to indicate, "Hey you!" to anyone who's attention he wanted. That was it other than incoherent babbling. And it continued that way all the way until he was two. He would slowly pick up another word here or there, and at each dr. appointment, he would "barely pass" to hear Kevin describe my anxiety. I wasn't anxious at all until others started to point it out and wonder. Shortly after two, it just all started coming out, and I was suddenly shocked at how my "little genius" was now talking to much and so well! And that first mommy? I didn't get that out of him until last Christmas when he was two and half! I so love your encouraging words that our children have all of live to learn how to live. Love it and thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi Rachel. It's so nice to hear someone else's experience and to remember that yes, they do catch on! I was just thinking how strange it will be will Ella really does start talking non-stop. This will all seem like a distant memory... And Jude is a little genius! :)


I love to hear from you! Like, seriously. It makes my day. Please feel free to respond, question, or add your perspective. Of course, please keep your words respectful. Thanks for reading and joining in the conversation!

A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.