I distinctly remember the first time I realized the girls could fill in the blanks in nursery rhymes and some of the texts from books we read frequently.
They were 21 months old, and I had wedged myself into the back seat, between their car seats, trying to entertain them to keep them awake on a 45-minute drive.
I thought I’d recite one of their ABC books. ’A’ is for apple, that I like to...and before I could finish, someone yelled out, “Bite!” ’B’ is for bear, whom I cuddle at…“Night!” We continued on and on, and they filled in most of the blanks in the alphabet. I moved to nursery rhymes, and they amazed me there, too.
I wondered how much the rhymes were giving the girls clues. Over the next couple of weeks, I began omitting words here and there in Curious George stories and other books. I remember laughing when one of them filled in the words “launching site” in a book about a rocket ship…it seemed so random, and it certainly didn’t rhyme with anything.
Over the last few months, the girls have started “reading” to themselves and their baby dolls. It’s amazing how they can recite page after page in so many books. There are times when they’re describing the pictures, but there are many times they’re saying the written text word for word, complete with Mommy’s inflections.
I remarked to a girlfriend how, despite me having read those books a gazillion times…which is obviously how the girls are learning the text in the first place…I couldn’t recite the text word for word.
A seasoned mom, she immediately responded, “They’re saving it for later.”
I’ve thought about this a lot. And I don’t mean to sound trite, but I keep equating it to what is said of someone who loses the sense of sight, for example, that his other senses become heightened.
The girls can’t read yet, so if they want to enjoy their books when Mommy is not reading to them, this is their solution.
A couple of weeks ago, I bought a Frosty the Snowman book, the original text from 1950. Granted, I read that book probably 20 times in three days, but I was astounded when the girls started reciting it verbatim within a few days.
Even otherwise unfamiliar text, like “floppy galoshes,” and more poetic syntax, like “said he”…they’ve got it down. And it’s so cute, where one trails off, so often her sister will pick right up.
The capacities of the human brain never cease to amaze me.
...now if I could just channel some of their capacities to remember what I need at the grocery store!