My parents say I was born talking and haven't shut up since. This is only a slight exaggeration.
I am their first child and one of the oldest grandchildren. My childhood was well documented in a La Leche League baby book, where the prompts not only focused on first teeth and words but father-coached child birth and breastfeeding. If I need to know when I did what, my mother can simply pull out this over stuffed book and find pages and lists of my likes, dislikes, first foods, first words and preschool pictures.
According to this book, I was talking in 2-3 word sentences at 15 months. Not years, people, months.
(Isn't it funny?" my mom said to me. "You talked so early and so well and you have the kid with a speech delay." Yeah. Funny.)
When I was a child, I chattered on and on until people begged me to stop. I remember my grandmother listening to me talk and then turning to my father and saying, "She's just like you! You used to talk on and on and I would say, `I hope you get one just like you!' And you did!" Then she's turn to me and say, "Laura, I hope you get one just like you! A kid who talks and is never quiet!"
As a teenager, my research papers and essays were long, sometimes to the detrement of my grades. I love research and still have boxes of photocopies in the basement. There's nothing like sitting in a library on a dreary day, pouring over books, discovering new information. To this day, I enjoy the challenge was writing a paper, the thrill of collecting and learning information.
They say people are more scared of public speaking than death. Public speaking never bothered me. Sure, I was nervouse- but diving into the pool before a challenging swimming event resulted in more nerves than speech class.
Yes, I have a voice- and I use it.
There have been times in my life when having a voice, being good at speaking, writing and all thing verbal, has not been a gift. It seems like people who are nice and quiet and don't make trouble are the prized ones, not the ones to challenge, who speak up, who turn in research papers miles longer than requested.
(Not that I would do anything like that. Ahem.)
And, frankly, what good is a voice if I don't use it to Be Famous, get my Masters, my PhD, become a Famous researcher, writer, novelist . . .
Ask my son, when he's an adult, what good his mother's voice was.
See, I have four wonderful, brillant, bright children, two of whom are verbal. Camille, like me, was born talking. Joseph has no problems tell you what is on his mind- and loudly. The kid can bargin like no other. Cole is shaping up to be like this older siblings. How many 14 month olds can say the word "Katie" when no one in the family is named Katie?
Then there's Georgie. What if his mother wasn't verbal? What if I wasn't a talker? What if I didn't do oodles and oodles of research and learn that having and then loosing words isn't normal? What if I had just bought into the "Oh, well, Einstien didn't talk until he was three" or "Well, so and so was a quiet baby and didn't talk much. He's just like them!" What if I hadn't been a talker and people just assumed he was quiet, like me? What then?
How old would he be before people discovered there really is a problem, a problem that runs deeper than "oh, he's just like so and so"? How much would he suffer?
See, my voice is a gift but it's not a gift for me. It's not a gift for the masses or a gift to make me Be Famous. It's a gift for my children. It's the gift I have to help them, to advocate for them. I can channel these gifts into helping them grow to the best of their potential.
I'm not verbal for me. I'm verbal for them. For George, the child who can't speak.
The words have always flown easily from my brain to my mouth. The same is not true for my child. I will never ever take this for granted again and I will use my voice, my ability, to make sure he can take the same thing for granted.
I have a voice so that one day, my child may have a voice too.