I was talking to a father at one of Ben's activity groups this week about his daughter who at 18 months has just a few words. He was worried. As it happened, I had just reread this blog post, so my attitude about the same stage with Ben was fresh in my mind. I told him that we, too, were told we ought to work at being a little less attentive, to pretend we didn't understand what he wanted so as to elicit words, and that I didn't like that kind of deception and didn't do it. (Instead I prompted him for the word before giving in to whatever it was I already knew he wanted.)
I have no idea if any of what we did or didn't do hurried or delayed his talking schedule. He had around 50 words at at his 24-month check-up, which I know because we made a list, and it's a pretty entertaining little artifact. His pediatrician said to give her a call if the summer passed (his birthday is the end of May) without a substantial language explosion, and I remember being a bit concerned even into July, and I don't remember ever thinking, "Oh, here it is: the language explosion!" but I also don't remember reaching the end of the summer and even considering calling the pediatrician.
And now here we are at nearly three, and it's not unusual for people to comment on how articulate and chatty he is. He's very chatty. He likes to bust into whatever conversation is happening between me and the check-out clerk or me and the server or me and the FIOS installer to announce apparent non-sequiturs like, "But I have a semt mixoo [cement mixer]!" or once, memorably, to respond to the age question from an enthusiastic waitress, "Two half. But I have gun!" (A wooden one Andy made so that Ben would stop stealing his carpenter's square.)
I was never really worried about his language development. I knew the range of normal was wide, and it was clear from very early that his receptive vocabulary was huge. But it was one of those things, lurking just beyond the horizon, ready to burst into star-spangled worry at any moment. Until it wasn't.