C is a four-almost-five-year-old who only speaks in vowels. Occasionally he will utter a W, B or M. His mother assures me there aren't any hearing issues. He's been tested and is normal physically and on track developmentally in every other way.
He's been here for about four weeks now and I have done my best to be patient with him. But, guilty as it makes me feel, sometimes I want to scream! His speech is the auditory equivalent of walking around without my contacts in; I can make out the general shape of things as long as I'm in familiar territory. Even if I know what he's saying, it's frustrating, suffocating. Like trying to breathe through a thick scarf.
Maybe if he wasn't such a chatterbox, it wouldn't be so taxing to listen to. Even though I know that what he's saying doesn't really need a response, there is some part of my brain straining away, trying to make sense of "Ah eh oo a ay eh-uh-ay" And by the time "I went to the fair yesterday" sinks in, I'm scrambling to catch up to the next six sentences. I'm exhausted by the time he goes home.
I find my response to him ridiculous. Shouldn't I be glad that he is trying to speak, that he has speech in any form? Intellectually, I can respond to him as a reasonable adult. Emotionally though . . . And he's not the only one.
Maybe I'm just lazy; I don't want to mentally sort through your language jumble for meaning. And I'm no stickler about grammar, either. I'll catch myself making mistakes all the time, but aren't there certain basic rules everyone should have pretty much woven into the fabric of ordinary conversation?
There is everyday ordinary grammatical soup inherent to spontaneous conversation. There are even words that people use intentionally like "ain't" and, in the case of my teens "costed" as in "it costed six dollars". For some reason they think this is funny. Not only funny, but necessary. They refuse to drop that one. I can ignore these things, but then there are these children that cannot form one normal sentence.
"Did you brung your book?" "I ain't got none" "I want uh apple" "Emily has mine shoe" We're talking ten, eleven year old kids. In moderation I can skip over it, but every sentence they utter? This stuff really drives me batty, but I don't think it should. It feels quite petty of me.
Here's my question–is it my place to run a constant barrage of correction at them? After all, I think that I have the foundation of reasonable language that I have because had I ever uttered "uh apple" whichever adult was in hearing would respond immediately with "an apple". It was never condemnatory; just automatic, swift correction. Now I do it for these daycare kids because I can't help it–it just pops out. But I hope they don't feel persecuted. As a child, I didn't need correction every other word, so it never felt like ridicule. I don't know how I'd feel if everything I said was straightened out and repeated back to me.