Snails and Queens and a Very Good Morning

This morning, Sophie was pretending that her lego-man was singing the alphabet, and she sang it for him, perfectly. Then she pretended he was counting things, which she can only recently do since she has only recently relinquished her stubbornly independent idea that 1-2-3-4-9-6-11 is the best way to order the numbers. We hadn’t really fought her on the issue of number order. I was amused that she consistently chose near-rhymes: 9 instead of 5, 11 instead of 7, since someone told me that the ability to learn rhymes leads well into reading skills. (That, and the ability to tell long stories, an ability that Sophie certainly has.) I figured the right numbers would come, eventually. I was even a little impressed with Sophie’s stubbornness.

My very wise friend Kate, who happens to be getting a PhD in early childhood education, told me that no one reaches age 10 without knowing all the colors and numbers. Kate says that all that stuff just comes. What doesn’t come to every adult, and what toddlers truly need to learn, is how to share, how to feel empathy, how to be creative: the good stuff.

So, even though I reject the whole checking-off-milestones thing, I was proud of Sophie this morning. I think her daycare teacher must have been working with her on numbers, since Sophie keeps saying, “Let’s count things!” in her daycare-teacher’s cheerful voice. Sophie is also fascinated by letters, lately: she wants to know what letters are in everyone’s name, and she wants to watch every sesame street alphabet song that we can find on our computer, as long as I’ll let her (I may need to get a ten-minute timer, or something, to limit screen-time in front of sesamestreet.org). Any time she spots an S, O, or P, she assumes that those letters are about her. Last night, watching the sesame-street skit “Q is for Queen,” she turned to me and said, “That’s you! Q is for your name!” Because, you know, she’s a princess, so I’m a queen.

She’s at a really adorable age.

This morning, after her impressive recitation of letters & numbers via lego-ventriloquy, she switched to showing off her newest skills of coordination, art, & scientific observation. She asked for play-dough and then actually managed to use the play-dough cookie-cutters for the first time all by herself, proudly pressing out play-dough animals. Then she spotted two real roly-poly bugs and observed, fascinated, as I moved them from our living room out to our patio. Those roly-polys curl up into balls on my palm, then stretch out again, and it is fascinating. Then we sat down to watch a snail crawling up the outside of our patio’s glass door. We got out Jumpy Jack and Googily, her favorite book about a snail, and read it inside while watching the real snail outside. We must have sat for ten minutes in front of that snail. She even sat still while I laced up her sneakers, because we were still watching the snail, watching it wave its antenna and ooze its goo and slide ever-upwards, slowly, till it reached Sophie’s height (3 foot 2) and we left for her daycare and my work.

It was a very good morning.

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