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


  1. Just going to hazard a guess here…craft?

    Comment by Sheri | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  2. I dont get it? Cat? please tell us!

    Comment by jenny uk | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  3. Craft? And I must say that I love these posts where you reassure us that our kids are normal and everyone develops at their own pace. The parents of those kiddos are very lucky to have you.

    Comment by Kellie | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  4. I’m not brave enough to guess (please tell us!) but I too love the language explosion. Oliver has had two or three of them and seems to be in the middle of a mini one right now, mostly involving songs. He is suddenly singing songs he’s heard for a long time but has not sung himself. The first explosion was fun, especially as a first time parent, but I’m enjoying the complexities of the words in each successive leap in language.

    Comment by clumberkim | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  5. It’s gotta be craft. (My hubby and dad always tease my mom when she goes to crap – er, craft shows.)

    LS, who is 19 months, is starting to go through her own language explosion. It’s so much fun.

    Comment by BookMama | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  6. Of course, craft! 🙂 How fun.

    Comment by kelli in the mirror | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  7. I was thinking maybe scrap. But craft makes sense too… more sense, with the sentence around it!

    Comment by Knotwurth Mentioning | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  8. Excuse me, stewardess, I speak Toddler. Pretty sure it’s “craft” and that’s not because it’s what all the other Better Parents said.

    Comment by stefanierj | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  9. Well, I was going to venture a thought–I guess it’s nice to know so many parenting minds think alike! (It IS craft, right?!)

    Comment by LoryKC | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  10. craft had been my guess too. i really love the mispronounciations that come along with the language acquisition, too. 😛

    Comment by Lara | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  11. I wouldn’t have guessed craft. But then, I pronounce it ‘craaahft’. And I pronounce crap ‘crap’.

    It’s the sudden outbreak into sentences, and the experimentation with language that always gets me, when they repeat a phrase in several different ways, just to try it out. “It’s a huge dog. It’s a great big dog. ENORMOUS.”

    Comment by z | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  12. Scrap?
    I love the advent of language, too. It’s so AMAZING to see the pieces falling into place so fast all of a sudden and the accomplishment on their faces. Even still, pumpkinpie sometimes blows us away with some new structure or turn of phrase.

    Comment by kittenpie | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  13. Hmmmm… I was wondering if maybe her mommy does CRAP-booking?

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  14. Congratulations to all you, evidently so skilled in Toddler-ese. Yes, the word was indeed “craft”. Well done!

    Comment by MaryP | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  15. Shoot. I was thinking maybe she drew a crab.

    Comment by Heath | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  16. Okay, I’m glad I’m late to the party, because I would have completely missed that!

    Maya, at 32+ months is having another explosion of language, and like Anna, it’s all about being able to communicate. From birth, this kid has been a communicator, and I’ll never forget the look on her face the first time she signed to me and I understood. “My mama isn’t an idiot afterall! Oh, joy!”

    Comment by Allison | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  17. Heath: Nope, because she’s too young to have any interest in actually making something. For her, the experience is all about — the experience. Watching the lines unfold behind her pen, the feel of the pen moving across the paper, the grip of the pen in her hand, the smell of the ink. Who needs to MAKE anything with all that going on??

    Allison: The communicators are SUCH fun. And no, her mama is not an idiot, at all!

    Comment by MaryP | June 13, 2007 | Reply

  18. I would have guessed she drew a picture of someone clapping, because my kids “crapped” when they were small.

    Comment by L. | June 14, 2007 | Reply

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