Mr. B is NOT normal. And in case you are wondering, no kiddo is normal. Here's the reason developmental milestones are not meant to be a specific set point in time, but a time span.
For example, Mr. B's first birthday came and went and he didn't walk. We waited a little longer, no walking. We waited even longer, still not walking. We waited a little less patiently and, well I think you get it now, no walking. Call in the experts. Actually, no. I can't tell you exactly when he started walking off the top of my head (his baby book is in the room where he is currently sleeping), but it was around 15 months. When he did decide to walk, there was nothing tentative. I put him down on the floor in a standing position and he took not one but three steps. Later that same evening, he walked all the way across the floor and the next day he was running. He did this with crawling. He absolutely refuses to do anything until he does it all the way.
Language development has been a little different. I am fully aware that statistically boys take longer to warm up when it comes to spoken language. Mr. B sometimes will say a word for awhile and then it disappears. Unlike the norm, he did say mama first and for quite awhile. The first time was in the car with daddy driving away from one of my part-time gigs and he said it in true desperation. I haven't heard it for quite awhile, but "daddy," is a regular sound in our home. :(
Given that he is a boy and others in the family had waited until they were capable of producing full sentences to talk, I began introducing sign language to Mr. B at 6 months old. For several months, it was something I did only and I am not sure that he even paid attention to what I was doing. Fast forward to 20 months old, Mr. B's current sign language vocabulary of what he can produce reliably tipped over 40 words today. Yet, 12-15 spoken words is expected at this age per babycenter.com. What is the underlying purpose of spoken word vocabularies? Is it to demonstrate phoneme (letter sound) production? Is it a way to measure a child understanding of symbolic meaning (the spoken word being a simple for the actual object....i.e. this thing I am typing on is called a computer, not because it is intrinsically appropriate but because it was selected by a human as the label or symbol...modernwordmaker would have worked too.)? Depending on the purpose of this milestone my son is either REALLY behind if sound production is the underlying goal or REALLY ahead if symbolic meaning is important since he produces 42 signs and can understand many, many more.
What is my underlying purpose in this blog entry? RELAX. Please stop worrying about your kiddo. A broad range of timing of these milestones is normal and inconsistent development is normal. My kiddo can communicate a lot of information, but has been slower with physical development. But, yep, he is still "normal" or abnormal ;) I guess, you can decide, but I plan to not worry and I plan to monitor myself for comparisons. I am deeply concerned that comparing one child to another or one mother to another is negative for all parties. I am not typing this for all people to read because I have perfected not comparing my child, but a way to document my intent. so, if you catch me making harmful comparisons, you have my permission to gently remind me of my pledge here. I actually mean it. This concern came about when another mama asked me on the playground how old Mr. B is because when asked to point to a letter he is correct a majority of the time (he is beginning to make the sounds too). She admitted that she was worried that her child was developmentally behind. I reassured her, but have continued to stew about this since then. Remember that inconsistent is often the case. My son can do all this, but he does not consistently use 12-15 words although probably has said this many.
IMPORTANT MESSAGE: for your benefit and everyone else's stop comparing your child to all the other children. You will save valuable time, energy, and mama sanity.
Second important message: If you teach your kid the sign for "cookie," he will use it with the most pathetic face at every opportunity. This sign took one learning incident...no repetition needed for this important word...yep, he understands the functionality of language.