Childrearing

Twinning: My Twins Took Forever To Start Talking & Then Called Everything ‘Cat’

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Despite not having a cat, and despite me being a dog person, my twins genuinely seemed to love cats. So I bought them stuffed cats, books about cats, and adorable little black cat Halloween costumes when they were one and a half years old. I figured when they randomly yelled “cat” everyone would just assume they were proud of their costumes.

For the most part I thought the cat obsession was cute, but I alternated between indulging the cat-love and trying to get them to correctly identify things. I bought cute framed prints of dogs for their nursery and I’d read them “The Poky Little Puppy” so we could get some more dog appreciation going. I remember eventually getting frustrated when they would point to things I knew they understood the meaning of (light, apple, ball) and say “cat.” They were smart kids, I was an attentive mother—what was the problem here?

When your kids don’t catch on with potty training, well-meaning people say “no kid goes to college in diapers.” When your kids don’t talk, people start telling you “Albert Einstein didn’t talk until he was four.” This didn’t help me. Maybe Einstein’s mother didn’t hold him enough, maybe he was ignored—I don’t know what his problem was, but I did know that I really didn’t want to hear “cat” for the next two years, and I imagine Einstein’s mother wouldn’t have either.

At 20 months my twins were only saying a handful of words, so my pediatrician suggested I have them evaluated by an Early Intervention specialist. A wonderful speech pathologist named Rachel came to our house and did an array of tests by playing games and interacting with Nick and Allie. She was surprised by how much my children understood and I was secretly proud about that. Rachel was also kindly unconcerned when Allie rifled through her handbag and pulled half the contents out, and later refused to participate in any games once she found something she really liked. Apparently, that type of behavior scores big in “Self Care” and “Adult Interaction.”

After our meeting, Rachel told me that my twins were exhibiting a 25 percent delay in speech and she wasn’t concerned because their level of comprehension was so high. She said if they didn’t have a major vocabulary burst within six months I should give her a call. I was happy that I never had to. Soon adorably-pronounced words like “cacka” (cracker) “appum” (apple) and “fwowie” (flower) were being spoken in my house, and within four months my two were talking up a storm, making even that little guy Einstein look bad.

(photo: Linn Currie / Shutterstock)

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