It’s Not All Mary Poppins


Emma and I are taking an ASL course. Emma found a Basic Signs book around the house, and – how’s this for random? – her friend Lina had the same book lying around her house, as well! The girls started memorizing their way through the books, but it didn’t take them long to realize that you can’t learn to speak a language by memorizing a dictionary.

We can now spell our names. Heck, we can spell anything! But spelling… Well, no one wants to do that as a regular thing.

“Hey, honey,” says mom, to dad who is driving, “I’m not sure I’ll have time to make D-I-N-N-E-R. How about we stop at M-C-D-O-N-A-L-D-S?”

“It’s not exactly on our way. How about S-U-B-W-A-Y?”

I’ve done it, you’ve done it. It’s good for emergencies, but efficient? Not so much. Emma and I have sufficient signed words that we can communicate the basics. We’d not starve, and we’d always be able to find the toilet. But it’s very, very basic. I figure we’re at the level of the average, oh, 19-month-old.

Nigel (who is now 26 months old) speaks English as I can only dream of speaking ASL. But 19-month-old Anna? Anna, who is at the “telegraphing” stage of language development?* She and I are probably at the same level in our respective new languages. Witness her skill…

My sweetie is home sick. Not really, really ghastly ill, just weak and tired. Anna, however, doesn’t see a sick man, she sees a warm lap.

“Up! Up! Up!”

He’s in a bit of a zone, and doesn’t register. Anna picks a board book from the floor.

“Book! Book!”

He looks at her. “Yes, you have a book, don’t you?”

Yes, he is indeed a bit spacey today. Fatigue has fuddled his brain, made him a bit slow on the uptake. Anna gives him a sharp whap in the knee with the book. That should help him focus!

“Book! Book! Up! Up!”

“You want to come up? You want me to read you this book?”

“Up! Up!”

“You sure are hard to resist, pumpkin. Here you go.” They snuggle in for yet another read of “Max and Ruby and the Rainy Day”.

Gee. How long do you think it’ll be before I’m doing so well in my second language?
* I just googled “speech development toddlers telegraphing” to find a good link to define “telegraphing” – and the first hit was my very own blog. Heh.

February 20, 2007 Posted by | books, Developmental stuff | 13 Comments