Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Listening In

My location at work provides me much interesting listening as parents talk to their children. Sometimes this is in a voice of encouragement as the children successfully count on the big, colorful abacus. Sometimes this is a voice of anger as the children are disciplined for not minding. Sometimes this is with a voice of absentmindedness as the parent actually has no idea where the kid is, but thinks if they talk soothingly while they peruse books then the kid must be close by. Sometimes this is in a voice of excitement as the parents and children discover favorite books together. Sometimes this is a voice of reading as the child snuggles in the parent's lap as they sit in a corner with a book. Very frequently the voice of frustration comes through as parents try to keep track of kids and there are tears or attempted quiet threats that no books will be purchased. All manner of parenting skills can be observed within my small sphere of work.
Today, I heard a brief conversation that brought a smile to my face. This mom spoke to her daughter like her daughter was an intelligent being (you'd be amazed at how many parents talk down to the kids). The little, adopted girl (probably between 3 and 4) had two ponytail, sprigs, one above each ear--so cute. She walked over to me and held up one finger on each hand and said, "We're buying two Clifford books." I responded with proper excitement and then she went over to where her mom was looking through the books on the Clifford shelf. The little girl had quite a lot of energy and in the process knocked over some books on a shelf. Her mom told her to put them back and the little girl struggled to follow the instructions but the books kept flopping over and she said to her mom, "How do I do this?" Her mom glanced over and said, "You need leverage. Pull out the bottom of the book a little so it can lean back." The girl did this and it worked.
Seriously, though, how many parents are going to tell their 3-year-old, You need leverage? I'd never think to say that. But it was really kind of cute, their adult conversation.


Lana Joy said...

I love this story. Emily has done this with Maddie pretty much her whole life, thus bringing about her use of actually and the proper use of adverbs within complete sentences at the age of 2 1/2 ("That dog is barking very loudly"). I appreciate it so much, but wonder how in the world you do it. I want to be that kind of mom, especially with how much I love words, you know? I am certain you feel the same about that.

stephanie said...

words are a wonderful thing. And yes, I'd very much like for my kids to have strong vocabularies and communicate in effective and intelligent ways.

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