MOMS TALK: When to Speak Up?
A weekly starting point for local parents to discuss hot parenting topics.
What is a mouse ting? Does anyone know?
My sister-in-law was entertaining her daughter’s young friend, who grew increasingly frustrated when no one could point her to the “mouse ting” on a play date.
“A mouse thing?” guessed Margaret, my sister-in-law. “A mouth ding?” She tried every verbal combination she could think of to placate her 4-year-old guest, but the child shook her head every time.
“A mouse ting!” she emphatically insisted. It was a mystery.
It turns out, the little girl was looking for the Mouse King, a Nutcracker toy, and Margaret was never the wiser until the little girl’s mother was able to translate at the play date’s end.
Margaret wonders now if she overstepped her bounds when she casually suggested to the other mom that the child might need her speech evaluated.
None of us want to hear that our kids aren’t perfect, and many of us would be fearful to even suggest to another parent that their kids aren’t, either.
But sometimes, an outsider’s objective assessment of our kids can be eye-opening when we realize that a behavior, or a speech pattern, that we’re entirely used to is not, in fact, entirely normal.
I Googled this one. According to an online speech and articulation chart, the articulation of the “k” sound is generally mastered by the age of 3 ½. So Margaret’s guest was indeed a little behind, but not yet appreciably so.
My own kids, before they were diagnosed with autism, were more than appreciably behind. I watched friends and family alike tiptoe around me, petrified of offending me, when they cautiously voiced their concerns that my sons didn’t talk, and had odd, repetitive movements.
I think I am in the minority that I was never offended. I knew something wasn’t going quite right, and frankly, I was relieved to hear that my fears were validated. “You can see that too?” I’d exclaim when one of my sons moved a Matchbox car back and forth in front of his eyes, over and over. “Phew, then I’m not crazy.”
But I also know that no one has ever thanked me for telling them that their children’s similarly odd movements reminded me of autism. Parents have the power to live in denial for a long time, and they weren’t ready to hear that their child’s development, which was normal in so many other ways, was veering off course.
Besides, I’m no medical expert—maybe their kid was just goofing around.
Anyway, I learned to keep my mouth shut.
Have you ever been in a situation where you struggled with the decision whether or not to voice your concerns about a child’s development to the parents? Do you feel that “knowledge is power,” even if it’s offensive to the other mom? Or do you prefer to keep your concerns private and hope the mom wises up on her own?