Will Lodge: What is normal anyway?

A lack of speech is clearly no impediment to eating cake for Mila

A lack of speech is clearly no impediment to eating cake for Mila - Credit: Archant

How do you decide what is normal when it comes to people, asks Superdad Will Lodge?

“Normal” is such a strange term, especially when applied to people.

Undoubtedly it has its uses. It is handy to know what the normal body temperature is, so if you register something higher or lower you may be ill, for example.

But when it comes to more opinion-based matters than fact, surely normal can only really equate to “how long is a piece of string?”.

My wife and I have been pondering this topic this week after baby had her ten month check-up from the health visitor.

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For those without babies, a health visitor comes and checks on you and baby a couple of times in the first weeks, then every now and then over the next five years. They monitor a whole range of things, from height and weight, to speech and physical development, and the general environment baby lives in.

It is a wonderful thing provided by the state, a great link for parents unsure about their baby’s wider well-being they would not want to trouble a GP with, and a way of catching any problems with baby early allowing for more effective intervention.

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Baby passed with flying colours, ticking all the right boxes in all the right places.

The only area of possible concern, if you could even call it that, was her lack of language – as yet the magical “mama” or “dada” is yet to be applied to us specifically, and instead form just part of the babble.

Was this lack of development “normal”?

Perhaps fortunately our health visitor was very grounded and agreed it was nothing to worry about yet, but perhaps something to keep an eye on if no progress is made in the next couple of months.

We are completely nonplussed.

With my wife doing a degree in psychology and early childhood studies she is well-versed in the recognised developmental milestones.

It is not as if baby is a mute – far from it.

We have recently re-organised our bedroom with my side of the bed now directly next to baby’s cot, and my wake up call is now hearing baby chatting away in her baby garble to me before I open my eyes to see her gazing over me while standing up.

I am sure it is only a matter of time before she is saying “wake up Daddy, I want to get out now”.

As I have said before, and will no doubt say again, I cannot wait to hear her actual voice, forming words and sentences – though I am sure before long I will also long for quiet and to never again hear “why?”.

Will her voice be “normal” I wonder, or will it have some defining feature so that people associate it with her uniquely or as part of her character?

The signs are so far that she won’t, but she may be unable to avoid a (north) Essex accent – that she will get from her parents.

Read more parenting thoughts from Will Lodge here.

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