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June 05, 2003
But can she spell "Gnat"?

Gnat is learning. I have no children, but I guess that when it works, this is how it works.

Gnat has been drawing big heads with dots for features, squiggles for hair, lumps for ears. The usual toddler conceptions of humanity: formless mutants.

“Look, Daddee. I draw an eye.”

I’m sure you did, honey. Can you draw a nose?

“No, I draw an eye.”

I looked: she had drawn an upper-case I. Her first letter. She copied it from a book. She pointed to the word BIG and said “BIG. B - I - G.”

Yes, she’s reading. Two years, ten months, and she’s reading. Mom, Dad, Cat, Dog, Bed, Pig, and several others - she understands them in different contexts. She reads the titles of old Disney cartoons; today she said “Fwee Liddle Pigs” when the title card came on. I’m sure she associated the music with the cartoon, which she’s seen a hundred times, but even so that’s pretty good. She knows that this music means this cartoon, and that those three words say “Three Little Pigs.” When we’re driving along she’ll point at a store’s sign and say “Open.” She knows the world is full of words and she interrogates each one to see if she knows it. She also understands ad campaigns - the Arby’s oven mitt amuses her, for some reason.

“Look!” she says, pointing up at the billboard. “Mr. Glove.” Later that day a commercial comes on, and she says “Mr. Glove, Daddee. He’s everywhere. He’s on the teevee an’ he’s on signs.”

Yes, that’s a direct quote. But it’s not the remark that bothered me the most today. We were in the car, driving along a suburban highway; she looked out at the foliage. “The trees are alll green,” she said. She paused. “These trees are greenish.”

Two years. Ten months. Greenish. God help me.

This is the kind of reason why the Lileks Bleat has a permanent place on the right hand side of this blog, but this bit makes me think he maybe should be in the "education friendly" category, because that bit could hardly be more education friendly, I would say.

Never mind. Good writing - I especially like the eye/I confusion at the beginning - is routinely impossible to classify.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 05:16 PM
Category: Literacy
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