It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Anna’s Words

Anna is having her vocabulary explosion.

I love it when this happens.

Almost every child has a window in which their speech takes a qualitative, huge, astonishing leap forward. Even though I’ve seen it dozens of times over the years, I still watch in awe when it happens. A vocabulary increases by 50, 75, 100% in a month. Words pop out of nowhere. Words, words, words. It’s lovely. (When does it happen? It varies hugely. For some, it’s as early as 11 or 12 months; for others, it’s a full year later. For most, it’s between 15 and 19 months. But it almost always happens.)

(And when it doesn’t, it’s generally because the child has just accrued the language in a steady, consistent way. No striking developmental leap, but no lag either. Not to worry!)

Now, different children have different motivators for language. Language development is instinctive in humans, yes, but different children latch on to it for different reasons. For some, language is a tool to get what they want. “Hey! I make THIS noise, and Mommy does THAT! Wow!!” For some, it’s a toy for their own amusement. They chatter to themselves all day long. For some, language is for getting attention. For some, language is about communication.

Anna is one of the latter. Above all its many other attractions, Anna loves language because it causes interaction, it creates contact, it communicates with another person.

“Mawee?” Anna stands in front of the speaker in the livingroom. “Mawee, mufic!”

“Yes, there’s music coming out of there, isn’t there? Nice music.”

Anna’s face crinkles in delight. One of her beyond-adorable husky little chortles breaks from her throat.

“Nife mufic.”

We grin in mutual comprehension.

We are at the table, messing about with bits of coloured paper. Anna is very fond of ballpoint pens these days, and will spend inordinate amounts of time making scribbles on paper. Scribble, scribble, scribble. In 45 minutes of careful effort, Anna will cover a paper with tiny scribbles, swooping scribbles, little zig-zags, blots, and big sweeps of pen. It’s absorbing work.

She holds her paper up.


“Yes, you have a piece of paper. It’s blue. You have a piece of blue paper, with lots and lots of scribbles all over it.”

“Boo paper! Has boo paper.”

“Indeed you do.”

“I make a crap.”

Brief pause. That’s not what it sounds like, obviously. She does not think her scribbles are crap. (And no, it doesn’t refer to any diaper activity. We don’t tend to use that slang for that substance in this part of the country.)

“What did you make?”

Anna waves her paper around. “My crap! See? My crap?”

Ah. Of course. I get it. (Do you?) I respond appropriately. Once again we have mutual comprehension. More smiling.

Communication is a wonderful thing.

June 12, 2007 Posted by | Anna, Developmental stuff | 18 Comments