“Mama J! I can write my name!”
And indeed, she had. Without copying someone else’s letters or asking which letter came next. Sophie did it all on her own.
“When I was a baby, I couldn’t write. But now I can.” She told me.
After she’d written her name about 50 more times, she looked at me and said purely, “I’m so proud of myself that I can write.”
I hear you, baby girl. I totally get that.
I’ve been watching her process and progress with this writing thing for the last few months, totally fascinated. Here’s what I’ve noticed.
- This thing is a gusher. Yes, we’ve been reading to her since she was in the womb. Yes, she’s always loved books and stories and songs. Yes, she seems to have massive amounts of my DNA. But suddenly, in the last two months, something has been unleashed. When the time is right, the learning and understanding steamroll, snowball, avalanche, whatever you want to call it. Suffice it to say, it all comes together—in a rush. She sees letters and words and the sounds they make everywhere. She’s constantly discovering and tying the pieces together in her mind.
- Letters, Words and Content: They’re everywhere. The radio in my Subaru flashes the singer, song title and radio station across its display systematically. One morning, on our way to preschool, Sophie shouted, “I see my letter! I see my letter!” I’m looking at the trees we’re driving by, thinking, there’s an S hanging off a branch? Only to discover that she’s pointing at the ‘S’ in Single Ladies.
- Mantras help. When I write something in my head and have absolutely and tragically nowhere to write it down, I repeat it over and over in my head—like a mantra—cementing and sealing it into my brain so I won’t forget. So it was really no surprise that Soph created a little ditty (to the tune of the cha cha to be perfectly honest). The lyrics are simple: s-o-p-h-I-E. There’s a nearly imperceptible hipshake to the right on the ‘I’ and to the left on the ‘E’. She walks around chanting. With emphasis.
- Make it your own. Now that she knows how to spell, my dad decided to teach her how to play tic-tac-toe. Besides the moment when she told him (after winning the first game), “Now it will be your turn to win”, my favorite slice of the game playing was when my dad made the first ‘X’ and sophie decided, on her turn, to make a ‘J’. He, of course, made another ‘X’, and then she made an ‘S’. He taught her a game, yes, but he had also given her several boxes to fill with her beloved letters. And dammit, she was going to fill them as she saw fit. It was her turn, after all.
- Enlisting the troops. And, just in case seeing your name spew from your own mouth and pen isn’t enough, there are always your lackeys. In Sophie’s case, it’s her little brother. Just 7.5 months younger, my little guy’s primed and ready. And she’s taken full advantage. First, she convinced him that his name is spelled J-e-c-k instead of J-a-c-k. (I’m not clear on her motivation here.) But more importantly, if you ask him how to spell virtually any word other than his name, he replies, ‘S-o-p-h-i-e’.
That’s right, Soph. Find the words, write them proudly and spread the gospel far and wide.