Even when in baby mode, Mara is all about letters right now. We have to read her alphabet book several times each day.
What’s fascinating to me, though, is the extent to which she’s making the same mistakes that I’ve made when learning other languages. She has trouble with some of the letters that sound alike (D and B, which also look alike, being the most common repeat offenders) and she currently insists that every letter on the page with her initial should be called by that initial and the requisite “M for Mara!” that goes with it. A lot of her letters come with place-holder words that she uses as mnemonics, “X-ray, X!” and so on. She briefly called giraffes Gs because she couldn’t remember the animal name but knew which letter stood next to it in her alphabet books.
More than that, though, she confuses “cheek” and “chin,” though I think she’s over that particular one, because she learned them from me in the first week or so she was with us, back when all she did was count on her fingers and touch our faces to say the few body parts she knew. Wow, she’s come a long way! But anyway, yes, “cheek” and “chin” are mostly good now, and “eyebrows” have found their rightful place. “Upstairs” and “downstairs” are still problems, though. Most opposite pairs are somewhat inconsistent, and honestly there’s not a whole lot of internal logic a kid can grasp when someone “turns on a light” versus when it’s “turned off.” And since she’s neither allowed to “close” nor “open” doors much (or at least not to close doors inside the house until she learns to turn the doorknobs to open them) it shouldn’t be a surprise that she sometimes has a hard time with those.
During her number phase, she was occasionally stymied by 8 and 3, which (understandably!) looked similar to her. I haven’t noticed as much of this with letters and we’ve been talking about how their shapes differ. So F is like E but with another line at the bottom. I’ll sometimes hear her murmuring this to herself as she plays with her letters on the fridge. (And even when she’s not playing with physical letters, she’s often pretending to be Super WHY‘s Princess Presto and writing letters in the air with her imaginary magic wand. “What sounds Sssssss Ssssss Sssss? Ess! A little snake!”)
She’s also decided that since M is for Mommy, W (“What sounds wuh? wuh? wuh?”) must be for Mama, which she knows isn’t phonologically true but somehow suits her desire for order and also cracks us up. I’m throwing that in here because Lee thinks any talk about how Mara’s the best in her class with letters or anything like that is showing off and that I think she’s going to be some kind of superkid. (And she is the best! Yay, Mara! She not only can identify the letter for her name but “S for Shauna” and a few other favored classmates show up in the lineup as we go through the letters.) Mostly, though, I’m just fascinated by watching her little brain work, see how she learns new things and forgets things and then comes back to them, how she’ll chirp up with something from the back seat that we adults had long since forgotten about.
I couldn’t understand her request for mittens a few weeks ago and she finally sighed, “Mommy, like gloves!” Lee claims that when she can’t understand Mara, Mara usually just sighs and gives up in a huff. Mara’s persistent, though, and as a bit of a perfectionist she likes to make sure we know exactly what she’s trying to say. So we know her little songs and little chants (like “kicking… a door,” which she claims is from Super WHY but I think she must have misheard) and even her favorite baffahabba nonsense sound. I’m so grateful that we have this time with her and that we get to see her growing like this. What a fantastic age, exhausting as it can be!