Locking eyes with her father or mother, Winnie stares open-mouthed as they repeat a sound or word. Soon she purses her lips and, when she’s ready, imitates the sound. I am enthralled.
Both my daughters acquired language successfully, and named names and sang songs and even made up their own words while playing with syllables. But I don’t remember taking the time to watch and appreciate the process. They learned to speak while I cooked, cleaned, did laundries, and chatted with friends on the phone. We sang together during bath time, but I was too busy soaping and rinsing to observe lips pursing and words forming.
But the world stands still for a little while when Winnie’s language tutorials take place. Winnie enjoys the gift of her parents’ complete attention. Their smiles and coos and kisses encourage her. In their laps, she is safe, fed, and ready to learn. Her parents’ delight washes over her. She speaks through smiles.
I know this because I am a grandparent, and the privilege of observation is mine. I have the time. I make the time.