July 23, 2010 By: erik Category: News, Offspring, Photos, Videos 350 views

Rate this post:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Long TongueToday I took Nora to the pediatrician to learn the results of a blood test she had recently. Her mild anemia has been rectified by the iron supplements we’ve been giving her. I mentioned to the doctor that we’re mildly concerned about Nora’s language development. Her only word is “no”. No mamá, papá, mommy, daddy, bread, water, pan or agua. It’s also totally unclear to me whether or not she understands anything at all that we say. Confirmation bias makes it easy to remember the times she gets a command or question correct and all too easy to forget when she has some random response. The doctor asked if we thought Nora’s hearing was okay, and I said there’s no doubt that her hearing is great. Whenever there’s the faintest bit of distant music, Nora’s gettin’ jiggy wit’ it. The doctor said that Nora’s situation is a little unusual by this age, but that being in a bilingual household is known to retard initial language development. In the philosophy of “better safe than sorry”, she’s referred us to a specialist that is somehow going to “evaluate” her at some not-yet-made appointment in the near future. I’m almost more curious to see the means of evaluation than to get the result.

Later, at lunch, I taught her to say “agua“. Whether or not she understands that the word refers to the clear, odorless, thirst-quenching liquid is anybody’s guess. But she sure did have a good time saying it! Agua is considerably easier to pronounce than its consonant-laden English counterpart.

Nora's Corner - El Rincón de Nora

This is Nora’s favorite “corner” of the kitchen. She is already showing that cat-like propensity children have of trying to fit into the smallest space possible, and I think she really likes having the two stools and bar surrounding her. Recently she’s been staying in this little fort while I wash the dishes in the kitchen.

  • Our pediatrician gives us a developmental milestones questionnaire at every well visit. Does yours do anything like this? I ask because most of the questions do not involve the child actually knowing words. They have things like “follows a one-step command with gesture” (e.g., you point to something and say “go get that ball” and they do it), or “babbles with a conversation-like sound” (which Nora obviously does incredibly well).

    From everything you’ve shared on this blog, it really appears that Nora is just fine. Learning two languages at once has got to be a much bigger challenge than just learning one. I bet that once she starts talking, she’ll talk like crazy.

    Though of course if you’re concerned, it’s good for your own peace of mind to talk to a specialist.

    Oh, and that picture of Nora standing in the kitchen is adorable.

    • I’m not really that worried, but it’ll be interesting to see what the specialist does and says. Nora will definitely fetch with a “go get that ball” command…when it pleases her. What I really want to know is how much longer I have to wait until she understands, “Go get daddy another beer!” 🙂

      Thanks for your reassurance, Andrea.

  • Erik, Hello from the US! (California to be exact) I came across your blog when I googled american in Spain. Your daughter is very cute. I have a daughter named Sophia who will be turning 1 this August and she has seemed to (until this past month) behind in her developmental milestones too. I have a son who is almost 12 years old, and being that he was either right on the mark, or ahead of the usual milestones, I was a little worried about her. I mean she didn’t even get her first tooth till last month! But what a month she had. She began sitting up on her own, going from all fours to sitting up, pulling herself up in her crib, and much more! I thought, God please slow her down. So all that is to say that every child is different. Your daughter, and mine, will make strides in their own time. It does not sound like you have anything to worry about. 8) (but you wouldn’t be a good father if you didn’t.)

    So Erik the reason why I wanted to contact you is because my husband and I have decided to pack up the kids and move to Spain! With the economy in the dumps that it is, and the cost of living here being so high we are struggling. We live in Camarillo (Ventura County between L.A and Santa Barbara) and it is beautiful. We are along the coast so the weather is incredible. Our neighborhood is very safe, the schools are awesome! BUT, we are struggling to stay here. My husband and I are both trained chefs, but I stay home now with our daughter. Meanwhile my husband commutes close to 100 miles (160Kilometers) everyday to work in L.A. because he can’t find anything closer. Anyway we just thought that since we have always wanted to travel or live in Europe why not now? My husband has a co worker that is from Spain (Bilbao) who’s father owns restaurants and will give him a job and place to live while he finds a place for us to live. We have some other friends that may also have options for us if that does not work out, but I guess I just wanted to ask you how you think that it is out there in Spain? We were told that the economy is bad everywhere but you can feel it more so out there. Do you think that is true?

    If you can give me some insight I would really appreciate it. my email is [redacted]

    Thank you for your time.


    • Thank you very much for the comment, Jen. I’ll leave my advice here in the comments in case someone like you in the future comes along.

      As far as I know, the only people immigrating to Spain for economic reasons right now are coming from the third world, not Paradiseville, California. Spain’s unemployment is BAAAAD (worst in Europe). However, if you have an actual way in (un enchufe, a plug) then you’re doing better than most folks. If your husband is American and they’re really willing to go through the work permit hassle, then you’ve really got a good thing going!

      The cost of living in the Basque Country is one of the highest in Spain. Unfortunately I’m unable to find any data to back up that previous statement. I don’t really know how it compares (or how to compare it) with Camarillo.

      Bilbao is very nice. It’s a lot more cloudy than Ventura Country, but it’s an exciting hub of culture. And no one worships a good chef like Spain and the Basque Country. And you could do a lot worse than having some Spanish cuisine on your resume.

      How’s your Spanish? I suspect that by age 12, your son might have lost most of the magical lingual malleability than your daughter still has. Getting around in Spain with no Spanish is pretty tough. But the gift of two native languages to Sophia is priceless.

      In the end, it’s up to you. There are pros and cons, but I know enough about psychology to know that long commutes are a recipe for misery and that big life changing decisions are rarely looked back on with regret.

      Good luck! Bilbao is only 40 minutes from where I live, so if you do move, let me know and we can get together for a mojito or something.

  • Paul Rasmussen

    She sure is cute.

    If my memory serves me correctly, her language skills at this age are a little better than yours were. But then you were way slow . . .

    Hey, I saw quite a few successive approximations I would have reinforced. Don’t be such a stickler for pronunciation (yet).

  • Rebeca

    Hi Erik:

    I’ve been following your blog for a while and wanted to say that I really enjoy it. I decided to write because I think you and your wife are doing a wonderful job raising your adorable daughter. I wouldn’t worry too much about the speaking because in the video Nora is saying “agua” more or less like any other spanish child who is learning the language is, my little cousin also says it like that either “ava” or “gua”. I suppose it’s going to be harder for her because she has two languages to learn but so far it looks like she is perfectly normal.

    Thanks for a wonderful blog.

    p.d sorry for my English and I apologise for any mistake.

    • Thank you very much, Rebeca. Your English was perfect. Please feel free to comment more often in either language.

      After giving it some thought, it seems to me that she could just say “wa wa” and get the baby-talk for H2O correct in both languages. 🙂

      P.S. In English, we use P.S. instead of P.D.

  • Antonio

    Nice baby you have!! Congrats-.