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The Intricacies of Language

My kids are now each of an age where they are learning new concepts in language. The Pumpkin is 6 (almost 6 and a half! those halves count!), and the Pookie is 4. They have each just come through another leap in development, and I can see that language was part of those leaps.

For the Pookie, he is now able to explain himself, and he is able to state words more clearly. Although his little lisp has been adorable, it has also lead to frustrations for himself and us. Now, he is able to explain "smah gitah" is not the "big gitah [we had just been talking abut]. He played the smah gitah" which was actually the violin, or "fiddle" as the Pumpkin explained.

Conversations with the boy are lengthier and have more details. When we ask him about his day or what they did in Soccer Shots, he actually tells us about an actual thing that happened. This is WAY better than the previous "I don know." And lately, I've been reading the kids chapter books at bedtime, and when I ask each kid what happened when we stopped reading the night before, he is able to remember some details and answer! This is really neat for me to see develop.

Unfortunately, he still likes to push his boundaries using words. I think we've finally gotten him to stop saying "bam your face." This was more annoying that you might think. At first, it was an occasional answer to an innocuous question, "like what do you want to do?" "I want to bam your face!" And then it morphed into random answers to EVERYTHING just about ALL the time: "Do you want a bagel or cereal?" "I want a bam your face!" Or even replies to statements: "Stop doing that, Pookie!" "Stop bamming your face!" I'm sure you get the picture. Ah, the fun of boundary-pushing four-year-old boys. "Bam your face" took a LOT of reminding and reprimanding to get him to stop, but he still adds "blah blah bloo blam" and other nonsense words in random sentences.

However, one of the cutest things he says is 45. It is so cute because we realized that the Pookie thinks that is the highest number evah! We could be talking about how much or how many of something and saying there are thousands or millions, and he'll say there are "FORTY FIVE!" And we all (the Pumpkin included), go "wow! That's a lot!" cause we know he thinks it's the highest number.

As for the 6 (almost 6 and a half!) year old Pumpkin, she has been learning language at the next level. Specifically, we've been working on sarcasm and figures of speech. Londo and I can be sarcastic at times. It helps keep us sane. And though we've read the research that says kids don't understand sarcasm until they are about 7, we give pretty good facial cues and flat out say when we're being sarcastic so she can learn. (I believe the research also said that they can learn a bit earlier if they are around it and it's explained to them.)

For example, if I say, "I really love it when you don't listen to me, Pumpkin." She knows enough to look at me, and I raise a single eyebrow, and she says, "That was sarcasm, right?" Yes, yes it was, Pumpkin.

I have been really enjoying teaching her figures of speech and sayings! I think it started with "it's raining cats and dogs!" That's a pretty crazy image, if you think about it--or if you are a kid just hearing it. That's when I explained that it was a saying and what that meant. A few days later at bedtime, I said, "What's wrong? Cat's got your tongue?" And then I realized that the last thing we needed was for her to have some nightmare where a cat was getting her tongue, so I quickly explained that it was a figure of speech, and what that meant, and how silly it was, and gave her a few more examples.

It's pretty neat to see how their language skills are evolving. Since Londo and I were both English majors for undergrad, we are very interested in language and teaching them about language. In fact, just the other night, I introduced them to poetry with the Shel Silverstein book I had as a little girl--Where the Sidewalk Ends is still a favorite of mine, and I LOVED introducing them to it. Language is beautiful and fun and interesting and frustrating and hard to understand and wonderful. Getting to watch and listen and teach my kids as they learn the intricacies of language is definitely a highlight of this parenting gig for me.


Jan said…
A really fabulous chapter book for when they're learning about figures of speech is Phantom Tollbooth, which has all kinds of figurative language in it, and plays with literal vs figurative meaning in awesome ways.

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