My Child’s Age Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Number

‘Two. He’s only two.’ Was my reply to the mother who loudly asked ‘how old is he?!’ with disbelief in her voice when I told her that I didn’t need the toilet cubicle thank you, because I was waiting to change my child’s nappy on the changing table.

It’s wasn’t a lie, he was two. But he was a week off his 3rd birthday.  I omitted that information when the mother exclaimed that he was extremely tall for his age. (He is tall for his age anyway, as it goes. He wears 4-5 year clothes, mostly.)

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So anyway. My son has just turned 3 but in terms of some aspects of development he is more like 2. The main delay is with speech and language; he’s not yet talking and he doesn’t understand as much as he should. And so he’s not yet toilet trained because we just can’t communicate with each other enough for him to grasp the concept. I’ve tried 3 times but he just isn’t ready.

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I’ve gotten over the grief of finding out my boy has learning disabilities and now I plough my energy into trying to help him and encourage him wherever I can. So it really pisses me off that I still cringe when strangers ask me how old he is. I shouldn’t care. I should just give them the honest answer without feeling the need to justify his behaviour/silence/nappy to them. But I don’t. I don’t want them to judge him as a child or me as a mother.

The difficulty is, if I say ‘oh he’s just turned 3 but has learning disabilities so is actually more like just turned 2’ the poor strangers don’t know where to put themselves. And if I just tell them his age with no explanation of his delays they assume he’s a brat and I’m a rubbish mother. It’s a tough one.

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Now he is actually 3 I know I’m going to find it even harder. When he was 2 (or ‘only 2′ as I always found myself saying) there were some 2 year olds that were at the same stage as him developmentally. Albeit they had just turned 2 and he was almost 3. But 2’s 2. Now he’s 3 people expect so much more from him.

At the doctors surgery yesterday I was struggling to keep him sat next to me, gripping onto him for dear life if I’m honest. Two old ladies told me to just let him have a wander. ‘Oh I can’t’, I told them. ‘He’d be out of those doors and into the carpark.’ They looked at him. ‘You won’t will you? Tell mummy you’re a big boy and you’ll be good.’ They meant well but they had no idea. If I’d have been able to tell them he was ‘only 2′ their expectations would have lowered instantly.

My son’s age really doesn’t matter. If I tell people he’s 2 they won’t question his behaviour and abilities, although they’ll probably have him pegged as a giant. They’ll tell me he’s going through the ‘terrible two’s’ with a sympathetic look on their faces and assure me that he’ll grow out of it soon. But I refuse to lie. His age in terms of the how many years it’s been since he was born means nothing to him, or to me really. I’m more concerned with the age his brain is operating at. 

He’s 3. My boy is 3. And it ain’t nuthin’ but a number.

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8 thoughts on “My Child’s Age Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Number

  1. It made my blood boil reading this. You poor love.
    Your little dude, Omar, is doing so well, as are you, and comments like these from people who know nothing about you do nothing but set you back.
    People really need to think before they open their mouths!!!
    I had a similar thing when Zak wasn’t talking. Looked old enough to know better yet his vocab and behaviour suggested otherwise. I used to hate going out and have panic attacks about it some days.
    I hope you’re all well and Omar is progessing – he WILL get there lovely. You’re a super mum and he’s lucky to have you.xxx
    Ignore the opinionated people and just tell them he has a learning delay. Their problem if they feel awkward, not yours.x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well y’know in some tribal cultures nobody keeps track of ages at all. We seem so keen to pin children down to ages, stages, levels, grades……it’s quite depressing! I’m a great believer in kids arriving at developmental milestones in their own time. I think with a supportive mother like you, your son will be ok. People are kinder than one might think, they just sometimes lack understanding or any real knowledge of what you’re up against. Parenting is tough, but parenting a child with learning differences is plain and simple heroic in my opinion. There is a great book you might enjoy called The Spark by Kristine Barnett, even if you cannot relate to all of it, there will lots to take away that might be helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment. I too agree that we judge children too much these days based on a model that not every child is going to fit with. Whilst I give my son as much support and encouragement as I can to progress, I’m also very aware that I need to just let him be little too.
      Thanks for the book recommendation, I’ll check it out 😊

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  3. My kid is 5 and he would still be straight out the doors into the parking lot, just like yours. Great post! It’s so tiring always dealing with people who think they know better than you. Our kid didn’t potty train until 4 – late 4 even. When people would say something (he looks 6 or older) I would smile and get really technical – asynchronous development, Sensory Processing Disorder, etc, as if I was talking to his doctor. Their confused expression was hilarious! Hang in there! And if you haven’t already, buy a backpack leash – who cares what people think, you have to keep your kid safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, it’s great to know I’m not alone. Sometimes I wonder if I’m being over sensitive maybe but it’s my kid, if anything is going to get to me it’s judgements made about my children!
      I might try the backpack leash again. I tried about a year ago and as soon as my son realised I had hold of it he went to ground! Xx

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  4. Oh how I can relate to this!!! My son is now 8 and still tall for his age. Also still speech delayed and dyslexic and has attention issues. We have had a lot of success with diet, multisensory learning, and other behavioural interventions. My blog is all about our journey if you’re interested.

    Liked by 1 person

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