Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Power of Words

Words are powerful things. They are the tools we use to connect with each other, a carefully chosen word can make us feel sadness, anger, love, hate. As a parent, I have the joy of watching my children learn words and develop language. Every day, one of them says something that makes me marvel at how a child's brain hears, processes, then creates language.

Penelope is at the very earliest stages of language development. She coos, babbles, and cries, trying to engage her audience. When she is in a talkative mood, babbling away, she looks you right in the eye, and pauses. When you respond to her, as though you were having a conversation, her eyes light up, she smiles, then responds in her own language. She is learning the art of conversation, the give and take, at the young age of eight weeks.

Samantha has a solid grasp on the English language. She is clear, most people can understand most things she says. She has a good vocabulary, but is still acquiring words. It amazes me when she uses a new word. I wonder where she heard it and how she came to know the meaning of the word without being told. The other day, she told me she was just going to ignore Ella so she would go to sleep. She said it as an adult would, ignore just rolling off her tongue as though she used it everyday when in fact, that was the first time that particular word had been incorporated into her vocabulary. She is learning to utilize common expressions. They are a constant source of amusement for us. Seeing my 3 1/2 year old standing in front of me, hands on hips, scowling and saying, "Oh for goodness sake!" makes me laugh inwardly every time.

Ella is at one of my favorite stages, rapid language acquisition. Every day she is using multiple new words and speaking more clearly. She has started saying two to four word sentences and is becoming more expressive. Her tantrums, though still intense, are less frequent now that she can communicate a little better.

Last night, after the eighteenth time I had gone into the girls' room to tuck them in, and take them potty, and sing a song, and say good night to every doll in their beds, and get my orders for checking on the pets, I stepped over the baby gate. As I was closing the door (again), I said my usual, "Love you both", and heard a little "Wuv you, Mommy" in return. It made every trip over that gate worthwhile.

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