Monday, June 25, 2012

A Walking Merriam-Webster

We're in a new phase in our household. We didn't spend much time in the "Why?" phase. But we are very much in the "What does that mean?" phase.

A typical conversation might go like this:
Me:  "... and she gets emotional when she hears that song..."
HeyMama:  "What does emotional mean?"
Me:  "Well, your emotions, like happiness, sadness, frustration, can come out as tears. When that happens, it's called being emotional." 
HeyMama:  "What does frustration mean?"
Me:  "Well, frustration is when you get angry or upset because something isn't happening the way you want it to, like when you ask MeToo to stop coloring on your paper and she doesn't."
HeyMama:  "What does angry mean?"
Me:  "What does angry mean? You know what angry means, right?"
HeyMama:  "Yeah, it means 'mad'."

So we go along from one word to another until she runs out of words she doesn't know and eventually asks about a word she does know, and I call her on it. This can go on for quite some time.

Ok, so this is an example of a time when I DO actually get to use some of my undergraduate education and clinical training in my job as a parent. I was a linguistics and psychology major. I know that HeyMama is making some cognitive transitions. She's started grouping words together by sounds - rhyming and alliteration. (I haven't dared use the word "alliteration" around her yet...) She hears new words and asks for meanings. She makes connections between different situations where she's heard the same words (and MAN, can those out-of-the-blue comments seem like real non-sequitors!!!) She's entered the world of metalinguistics - not just using words, but thinking about the words she uses:  the letters they contain, what they sound like, what they mean, the associations that go along with them. She's categorizing things in her mind at a higher level. She's no longer the simple sponge that her younger sister still is. Her brain just analyzes and stores information differently. It's so interesting.

AND IT'S SO EXHAUSTING. I feel like a walking Merriam-Webster dictionary. I could be an OED if I didn't slip into a Texas accent so easily. 

I keep reminding myself that a verbal child is a blessing. I'm thankful to not navigate the path of Early Intervention, IEP's and weekly speech therapy. But blessings can still be exhausting. 

"What does exhausting mean?"
"You, my dear, it means YOU!"


  1. She's getting ready for Luther's Small Catechism!

    1. Hahaha! This IS most certainly true!

  2. Love it! Just an FYI, it will last a long time, KJ just turned 7 and I still get those questions plus I am getting "How does this work?" and "Why did that happen?" and also we are starting to get deeper into emotional growth and developing feelings. I LOVE being a mom and facilitating her mental and emotional growth, but I agree, it is EXHAUSTING! Keep up the great work!

    1. It's good to know that this phase doesn't have a quick end. BH and I were talking today about introducing the girls to National Geographic - he and I both devoured them as kids. I can't wait to open their eyes to the rest of the world!