At dinner the other day, I said to Ben, “Do you think our kitchen fan is making a funny noise? It sounds to me like ‘Beeeee’.”
Sophie looked up brightly, eager to join in the conversation. “B,” she said. “A, B, C.”
I had no idea she knew the alphabet.
We tried out other letters, and, yes, someone has taught her to repeat letters. She can’t get much past “D” yet — she is only 20 months old, after all or maybe 21 by now. Honestly, I’ve lost track of how old Sophie is. She’s a few months short of 2 years old: I can say that for sure.
I ought to be proud that she knows “ABCD” already. I ought to be happy that her thrice-weekly daycare teaches her so much. I asked Daycare Teacher Sarah about it this morning, and she said, oh, yes, after Sarah cooks the healthy warm lunch that she makes every day (while watching 7 children under 2, including a 4-month-old, incredibly calmly!), then she has all the kids sing the alphabet song while waiting for their hearty soup/casserole/delicious-whatever to cool down to a temperature that toddlers can eat. Sarah is kind of perfect like that. Throughout the day, she creates teachable moments within a comforting routine.
Sophie has started calling all adults, “Sarah.” Including me.
Maybe that’s why I’m jealous. But I think it goes beyond wanting Sophie to remember that my name is “Momma,” not “Sarah.” It’s that I wasn’t in a hurry for Sophie to learn the alphabet. I myself was a late reader. My kindergarten teacher even suspected I was retarded, and it wasn’t until second grade or so that I became addicted to books. My friends with kids at the Waldorf School tell me that there’s no advantage to being pressured to read before age 7, that earlier isn’t better, that there’s plenty of other things that kids need to learn first, like how to play in a sandbox. Because I was a late reader myself, I’m inclined to agree.
But I think even Waldorfians and Montessorians would admit that when a child starts spontaneously reciting letters, it might be time to pull out the alphabet books, to nourish that curiosity, following the child’s own lead.
I guess this is the first of many regrets at how fast Sophie is growing up. She learns things from people other than me. She’s learning the alphabet far before I thought she would or should. She’s brilliant and wonderful and already growing up too fast.