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Posts Tagged ‘Anna Quindlen’

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I recently read Anna Quindlen’s Nanaville. I could have written it. Replace her son with my daughter and give Arthur the name Leo, and we are the same! Her grandson Arthur is learning Mandarin and English while Leo is learning Spanish (from his babysitter) and English. Quindlen’s book has inspired me to capture “Small Moments” about my grandchildren.

Leo calls milk “che-che” which is Leo for Spanish leche. He calls water for drinking agua while wawer means bath or swimming pool. Sometimes we assume a word is one he learned in Spanish because we don’t know what he is saying.

Leo is becoming himself and asserting his own language. He has decided to call me “Gon.” This, I guess comes from “grandma”, but it’s not very cute. He says it as a command like “no” or “mine.” We have been trying to get him to call me Ma mère because his grandfather wants to be Grandpère. Grandpère has become the sweetest soft sound of “Pee-père.” Leo has made the connection now, so following his command “Gon!” comes sweet eyes and “Ma mère.”

In addition to language, I am fascinated by how Leo plays. On Saturday a friend stopped by and brought me two quilts she had made for the boys. Leo chose the one with fish and gators on it. We laid it out on the kitchen floor, and I opened a drawer full of paper products: plates, napkins, and cupcake holders. He went back and forth from the quilt to the drawer to create a picnic. Here is a picture of him with a paper plate of goldfish, a favorite snack. “Shish.”

The thing about language is that it it the ultimate transactional process. If you watch children acquire language, you can see them not only speaking but arranging the known world. We ask them questions we know they know the answers to–What color is the ball? Where do frogs live?–so that they can practice the arrangement. It’s also pretty thrilling to be part of the process, and for a grandparent it’s tantamount to learning a new dialect.

Anna Quindlen, Nanaville

We ask Leo questions all day long. And he labels things. He also makes connections. He will point to the bayou and say “wawer” and follow it with “boat!” Then he waves because that is what we do. Watch for boats and wave to them. He sees a man wearing khaki pants and a hat cutting the grass and says “Pee-père.”

One of my favorite connections he’s made is the portal we use to call my parents. He says, “Pop!” He’s getting to know my parents in a different way using technology, but they are a part of his life and his vocabulary.

At 11 months, Thomas, Leo’s cousin (my second daughter’s son) is experimenting with his body, crawling at lightning speed and climbing stairs equally as fast. I could have sworn last week when I kept Thomas overnight, he echoed, “Night night.” I recall that his mother spoke early.

As a grandmother, I have the luxury of time with and time without my grandsons. I can pay attention to these milestones. Make note of them. Marvel at them. I am an observer. On the sidelines to the great miracle that is language and love.

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