Thursday, June 14

Wat Zeg Je, Kikkertje?

My son is the Singing Frog.

You remember right? The Looney Tunes cartoon where the guy discovers a frog at a construction site. A frog who sings? Yeah, yeah, you remember, a frog who sings and dances? And the bloke who finds this frog has visions of making bank off this singing dancing wonder and immediately takes him into the talent agent to broker the deal. At which point, the frog neither sings nor dances, but merely sits on the desk looking very much like a regular, boring 'ol frog, and 'ribbits'?

If this isn't ringing any bells for you, I link you here for the full entertainment.

And I say again, my son is the Singing Frog.

Recently I posted about Andrew and his propensity to speak backwards nonsense when he was first acquiring speech. In truth, his speaking skills have grown exponentially in the last several months and the boy has turned into a chatterbox. We couldn't be more pleased, as we waited so long for the advent of this skill. Indeed and indubitably, he has made great strides in his language development. He sings, he asks questions, he answers our queries, he speaks. He speaks! He speaks! He speaks!

But only at home.

Something happens at the threshold of our front door, or possibly it's when we step to the other side of the garden gate. Somehow and suddenly, if it's not us, as in a brother, a sister, a mommy or a daddy involved in the conversation, Andrew's skills disappear. When he does attempt a hello to the neighbor, or a teacher at playgroup, only after a prompt from me, he sounds more like a baby Mr. Bean. He pulls his chin into his neck and grunts a barely audible, certainly not decipherable, reply.

I am telling you, the Singing Frog.

No where is the phenomenon more pronounced than when we visit the speech therapist. The place where he should be talking because, well, that is what he is there for. To speak. To the therapist. Who by rights and definition should be hearing him so she can help him. But he doesn't speak to her.

Likely that is because he is well aware that he is there for therapy. He knows that he is supposed to talk there. He understands that he should talk there. He certainly discerns that he can talk there. He just doesn't.

I don't yet know if that is part of the underlying difference in the way his brain works or if I can simply chalk this up to well defined 4-year-old beat-the-system-manipulation. But the reality is that he jabbers all the way to the hospital's therapy center, a 15-minute bike ride from our house. He chats to me about all the things he sees along the way. "Did you see that duck, Mom? I heard a motorcycle. Look at that car!" And occasionally the conversation is peppered with a line from Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, or more often, a Wiggles tune.

He talks constantly as we park the bike and enter the building. "Let's see the fish after Ineke, okay Mom? I can do the stairs myself! Hey, look at that baby!".

He prattles incessantly as we climb the stairs and walk down the corridor. "I see that balloon! I go see Ineke, right Mom? Open the doors, okay?"

He natters on and on as we wait our turn to enter the therapist's office. "I can go up the slide! You take my jacket off Mom? This is your purse, right?"

However, as soon as the door opens and he steps into therapy, he says nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Sometimes he grunts. Occasionally he squeaks. Every once in a while he mutters something under his breath. He sporadically repeats in whispers.
Every week I wonder, who is this kid and why won't he speak?

It likely goes without saying that as soon as the session is complete and the time with the therapist is over, he steps into the hall and into my arms and the chinwagging begins anew.

I have explained this to our therapist before and she assures me that it's normal for a child to do something like this. To talk more at home than s/he does at the therapist's place. But never before had she heard the level his skill has reached; the speech that he shares with us at home. Until our session this week, I believe she believed he was only at the two--or possibly three word--phrases level of language development. But as the two of them met me in the Ouderskamer (parent lounge) after the 30-minute therapy, Andrew immediately began chatting away to me about the things he saw in the room. Our beautiful therapist, Ineke, stood and stared at him, gazing down from her 6-foot tall, long legged, leather boot clad frame. Her jaw went slack and her sheer blue eyes grew to saucer size as she listened, for the first time hearing the length of the sentences flowing from his mouth. And the clarity of the words off his lips.

She heard the frog SING.

We sat down to discuss the conundrum we face with him; this not speaking outside of our house thing. Within that discussion she suggested that I video him at home and get some of his language documented on DVD. This might allow the line of doctors, assessors and therapists a more comprehensive picture of his capabilities. A brilliant idea, except for the fact that I don't own a video camera.

Which actually brings me to the point of this post. As my friend Allison, who writes Soccer Mom in Denial, said in her comment in response to this post, I need a video camera. And while I am not asking for donations toward "The Buy Jenn a Video Camera Fund" she teasingly suggested, I am asking for recommendations. Educate me please. Be my consumer guides. Which camera brand/style/model do you use to document the happenings in your lives? Would you buy that camera again? What do you suggest for me?

I look forward to your responses, your guidance, your counsel.

I am determined to catch this frog on tape.


  1. Hi Jenn, I don't know how much help this will be to you, but I spent my early elementary years in speech therapy. I stuttered. And stammered. But only outside of the home. And on the telephone, which was the absolute worst.
    I remember going to the speech therapist myself, and how I could read Macbeth without one little hesitation, but as soon as I stepped out into the icky real world, there came the stammer.
    I can only say that I grew out of it, not that I relish speaking in front of strangers even today.
    I really empathize with your frog.

  2. Does your numeric camera do short video? It might not be enough though.
    We have the opposite problem with Nina, she does well with the speech therapist and regresses with us. We are trying not to get too worked up about it as that just seems to make it worse.

  3. If you do get a video camera, buy one that has the appropriate hook-up so that you can record what you have captured on a CD or DvD or to your computer. Go to CNET; the site reviews electronic equipment. They also have information for novice buyers.

  4. I am sorry my link does not work. Try .

  5. Hahaha. My husband is kinda the same way... Everyone thinks he's so quiet and demure and angelic.

    He's not.

    As for video cameras, I know nothing. I got a great deal on a little JVC camcorder with digital camera a few years back, so it's the only one I'm familiar with. It's just fine. No complaints, but I have nothing to compare it to! Good luck!

    By the way, I love the description of the therapist staring at him in awe in the waiting room! At least she finally got a glimpse of what you've been trying to tell her!!!

  6. Oh! And my kids and I just watched the singing frog clip about a thousand times. They thank you profoundly for the entertainment!!!

  7. The only thing better than Singing Frog was the opera bits. I LOVED those.

    My first introduction to Rossini :)

  8. ROFLOL! I *loved* the singing frog when I was little and I take full giggle in knowing you have given your precious ds this beloved title. LOVE IT! And aren't kids notorious for being singing frogs? "Show Nana your new trick." Ten minutes later, Nana has lost interest in waiting, lol.

    As for cameras, I'd love to suggest anything BUT Dino-cam and a brain that's stuck in the 80's.


  9. I love your Andrew stories -- what a great kid!

    As for the video camera, the only suggestion I have is to make sure it's comfortable for you to use. We bought one back when they were first coming out, and it's pretty sleek in the way the crank telephones were sleek in their day, but it's still so cumbersome that I've never wanted to learn to use it.

  10. We have the same problem in our house. My oldest is going for a speech evaluation next week. We're not sure if he really has a speech problem or if it's just that he's naturally shy. Of course I felt like an idiot at the ENT's office yesterday because he was babbling away to the doctor after having his hearing tested. She wanted to know why I thought he had a speech problem. His teacher was the one who suggested it!

  11. I'm surprised your digi cam doesn't allow you the option of taking short videos. My old one, a Minolta Dimage, allowed me that option, and my current one, a Canon PowerShot A540, gives me that capability as well. My husband is the videographer in the family; he has a Sony DCR-HC21 which he bought refurbished from the site. He really likes it, and he got it for a smoking price.

  12. I LOVE the singing frog. It's one of my favorite cartoons!

    I capture most of my video for the web on my digital camera, a Kodak EasyShare. They're affordable and easy to use, but don't trust my advice. I'm a technological nincompoop.

  13. Our kids are quite the talkers but can be reserved outside the house. I think it is being cautious for our people. But all of my kids have not done a developmentally appropriate task at some point for the pediatrician, physical therapist, etc and ugghhh, I get that look.

  14. Catching up on some of your older posts while you caravan around Europe. The youngest in our family is also named Andrew. And someone we thought who was delayed (or whatever you called back in 1970) has turned out to be the most creative, well-read, articulate, and caring member of our family. You are lucky to have an Andrew in your family!