She’s been recognizing and writing letters for awhile, and it’s a learning process that really fascinates me. I can’t remember a time in my life when I couldn’t read – it’s one of my favorite things to do. But when you spend a lot of time reading with a young child, it’s really amazing to see the little flashbulbs going off in her head. Those bizarre combinations of vertical and horizontal and diagonal lines and dots and dashes became an organized system of twenty-six letters, the multiple sounds each letter made soon followed, and then at one point there was born this intense desire to make these letters and sounds mean something on paper that she could share with others. The mastery of her name, soon followed by our names and other simple words, allowed her to start to form stories of her own. Her stories were always much more elaborate than she could ever write down, but getting those key words down was satisfying enough…she could always fill in the blanks out loud for us.
Next the words became descriptive – a caption under a drawing she did, names under the people she drew – a way to label things so that we all could understand what things were. In church one Sunday, after I filled in our names on the attendance register, E asked to see the book herself. She added her name on the line under ours, carefully copied the check mark in the “member” column, and then we stopped paying attention to her writing and focused back in on the service. A few minutes later I got a nudge on the elbow, and a not-so-quiet whispered “Mom…is kid with a c or a k?” I looked down at the register, and saw that she had filled in the right hand email column, which was blank, with descriptions of who we all were:
We both wanted to tear the sheet out and keep it, it cracked us up so much, but we knew someone was going to enjoy it come Monday morning.
But back to the memory I mentioned above – the first time she ever composed a letter on her own. We had out-of-town guests in for Memorial Day weekend, and we had vacated our second floor abode for them, and had moved into our unfinished third floor back room, down the hall from E’s room. The first morning of their visit, E woke up at her normal time, but it was just too early for the rest of us who had been up very late the night before catching up. She played by herself in her room for quite a while, occasionally coming into our room and asking us if we could please go downstairs and get some breakfast. Not wanting to wake our guests (or get up ourselves) we kept telling her we would go shortly, and she stayed patient for quite a long time. After at least an hour, maybe more, she finally marched into our room with this:
This is one of our very favorite things. It’s true, we were being lazy, we were ignoring her patient and reasonable requests, we were cajoling her to continue playing so that we could laze around a little longer on the air mattress. We were so tired that we missed it – the furrowed brow, the sigh, the search for something to write on, the marker selection, and then the formation of the letter’s intent in her head. Formulating the argument that she had tried to make in person; now forced to resort to the pen. Each word of this statement informing some letter of the alphabet that she wrote, and the strong ending with those words that she knew would persuade her case. Her delivery was priceless. I’m glad we slept in.