It’s nearly impossible not to write about watching my 4-year-old discover writing. Because she’s my baby and because writing is my soul sister. To see the two of them combined is…well…beyond the beyond.
Here’s what she’s up to.
She’s mastered the letters. She can identify them in books, on t-shirts, on my computer—you name it, she’s calling them out like muggers in a precinct line-up. And, she can write them. Not just her five, S-O-P-H-I-E, but all 26. Which is where the composing comes in.
She spends hours (in 4-year-old years, which is like 20 minutes in grown-up years) arranging letters into magnificent combinations. With her pen and paper, with the alphabet magnets and the smooth surface of our fridge, she creates wordy masterpieces. Sometimes they are short: P-O-H-P. Sometimes they are long: S-O-P-H-I-E-J-A-C-K-D-P-E-X-I-Q-W-N. Sometimes they make sense: P-O-D. Sometimes they don’t: G-H-N-O-O-F.
But they always end the same—with the question: “What does this say?”
We sound them out for her, of course, because the point is to help her learn phonics. But I long for her to tell us what they say, you know? What it means in her mind when she takes the notes she’s been given and arranges them just so. In that way that feels like the sweetest sort of mastery…and connection…and song.