I Am Back And Paler Than Ever
Don't Ask Why I Bothered With Punctuation At All

Dattuh Nees Heesh Hadadee

We finally took Patrick for his speech evaluation today. As we went up the stairs Patrick glanced at the ceiling and then bellowed at the top of his small-but-mighty lungs, “Mama o na hah ah!” and I blushed scarlet because, yikes, what the hell was that? Mama turn that fan on? Are you kidding me? Somebody get that boy into speech therapy, STAT! Oh. Right. Ok then. Good.

There is actually a little story attached to where we wound up this morning and, although it is not interesting, I am going to tell it anyway because it Teaches An Important Lesson.

Way back when we all agreed that Patrick should get evaluated I called the number my pediatrician had given me. School districts are required by federal law to provide services for children under three, including speech evaluations and therapy. So I called the number for our district and spoke to a woman who promised a different woman would call me back within two days to discuss the specifics. That was on a Thursday. Monday came and went with no call, then Tuesday, then the whole week passed. I took this as a sign from Alexander Graham Bell that we did not need to get Patrick evaluated after all. I mean, oh well, I tried.

The following Monday the phone rang at the questionably appropriate time of 8:03 am. As I was asleep I let it go to voicemail. It was whatshername, the second woman, and she was calling “to arrange Patrick’s intake.” Intake? Yeep. What a friendly word that is. You know who else does intakes? Prison wardens, that’s who. I sort of balked and let the day go by without calling her back. That night, at NINE, she called again: “Just wanted to get this taken care of,” she said breathlessly into the answering machine. The next morning she called at 7:41. 7:41! She left another message saying we really needed to speak and was there a better number to reach me and she doesn’t understand why we hadn’t connected yet. Three phone calls in twenty-four hours- I ask you. I felt annoyed and flustered and went back and forth over what to say when I called her back, a process that left me no time to actually make the call. She then called AGAIN that night (late) and left ANOTHER message about how urgently we needed to get something set up.

Just so we are all on the same crazy diary page, my initial call to the district said, “We think our two-year old might have some speech delays and feel it would be appropriate to have him evaluated by a professional.” Got that? Nothing about people chasing us around the house with knives, nothing about how my out-of-control drug use makes me fear I am harming my baby, just a little suburban speech angst.

So I thought, my god I don’t want to deal with this pushy person who calls when I am asleep or having sex but I DO want to make sure that Patrick can deliver his valedictory address… what to do, what to do?

That is when, duh, I called our health insurance company and discovered that they cover private speech therapy. Which brought us this morning to a lovely, very old brick house full of mellow sunlight and packed to the rafters with caring, competent, one-on-one speech pathologists who all elocute beautifully. Ours is called Shelly, a name that regrettably contains only two sounds Patrick can manage: uh-ee. Hi uh-ee.

Oh, you got the moral, right? The Important Lesson is don’t call someone four times without giving them adequate time to respond or you will come across as a scary assloofah. Oh, and never call me before nine in the morning.

Anyway, I really liked the speech evaluation. I liked her and I liked their offices and I LOVED the fact that when I mentioned Patrick is a big fan of the alphabet she instantly rummaged into her cupboard and produced a big wooden alphabet puzzle for him to play with as we talked. She said his speech issues were really unusual. I liked that, too, because I felt like she had paid attention when I talked about his weird sound substitutions and his elaborate, totally incomprehensible sentences. She said it was interesting that he manages all of the syllables and his intonation is perfect but most of the sounds are missing. She also said it was interesting that he is so consistent in the sounds he makes and those he substitutes. She said that he seems very very bright (he adds AND subtracts and can read a few words when written for him, his mother notes with modest pride.) And Shelly observed that he has a surprisingly small range of sounds he can make, which I guess makes him, like, extra delayed. She said we would figure out if there is a specific diagnosis, like apraxia, as he goes through therapy.

Steve and I both went to this appointment and we left feeling good about everything. Don’t get me wrong, she definitely thinks Patrick needs therapy and we will be taking him twice a week for the foreseeable future but I think it will be great for him. Or, as Patrick might say, “I go up ah boo ah wiv da. Mama hits dah. Nets go! Hi uh-ee. I nah high-vuh ma hah-ees?” (I go up in the blue car with Bear. Mama sits down. Let’s go! Hi Shelly. I read five more stories?)

Bless his garbled little broccoli-hole.