Friday, January 22, 2010

Verbal streak

This is such a fun period. In the past months and weeks and now days, River’s vocabulary has been growing at an astounding pace. Now he has a pretty impressive range of communication, with the ability to use verbs, to be specific about what he wants, and his favorite – to point out and comment upon everything he sees.

For me, it’s a wonderful window into his mind. I can see that cars, trains, trees, dry leaves, people, vehicles, lights, birds, dogs, animals, the sky, sun and moon, food and noises make him the majority of his thoughts. Now that he’s found the power of communicating, sometimes his thoughts run more quickly than his ability to speak and the words blend together in a jumble of eagerness to leave his mouth, causing us to laugh.

One side effect of this is that he gives his high-pitched eager commentary in the same way when we are in public as when we are home. So when we went to the tiny local natural foods store this evening, he was a babbling away in Spanish – Pears, River wants pears. Oh carrots. Let’s get carrots. The squash is heavy. But River is strong. Yogurt! A little yogurt. For River. Ok! River wants to eat the banana. Can we take off the peel? Pay for it? Eat it please?

The cuteness of the high-pitched dialogue in such an unexperienced voice would probably draw attention regardless of the language. But I think that people end up staring a bit longer when they realize he is not speaking English and he doesn’t look foreign. Several people smiled kindly at us, others looked with curiosity.

I’m proud that he’s able to communicate in another language and I hope that people seeing what a 25 month old can do with Spanish will encourage them to try a second tongue for themselves or their children. At the same time, I’m a little worried about what is going to happen when River intuits these looks. Will he feel ashamed? Will he lower his voice? Will he be hesitant to speak Spanish? Will he wonder what the heck his mom is doing?

The best I can do is to build the language base as much as possible before that happens and to do my best to find friends and environments for him where he can speak Spanish safely. It will be an inevitable challenge. But in the meantime, I’m enjoying the innocence and the beauty of him exploring his local environment in a foreign language.

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