October 21, 2013

Watching the Words

By Marcia Kaiser

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.

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Marcia Kaiser

About Marcia Kaiser

Marcia Kaiser was raised on the north shore of Long Island, New York, where she and her family lived for her first nine years in an apartment above her grandparents’ stores. Her grandmother was always a part of her family. Marcia received her degree in education from Boston University in 1971 and her Masters Degree in education from C.W. Post College in 1975. She has been an elementary school teacher for over thirty years and is currently a library teacher in a public school in New Jersey.