NB2.0 just turned 16-months-old, and the most exciting development right now (besides getting in three canines simultaneously and drooling like a bloodhound) is that she’s learning more words! Sometimes learning a new word is something she practices for about a week and then one morning she’s got it. Other times, she’ll pull a Word Ninja on us and parrot a word out of nowhere and make our jaws drop. Hi-Ya!!
This morning NB2.0 was practicing the word “shoes,” which she pronounces it as “chooo.” I love that she squinches up her nose trying to say “chooo.” She is, by the way, obsessed with shoes and will try to put on a second pair of shoes over the shoes already on her feet. Sorta like how we used to wear two pairs of scrunch socks back in the 90s? And I don’t blame her. One can never have too many shoes… ya hear me, Noob Daddy?
She’s also mastered my version of, “No, No!” We’ll hear this when she throws cat food all over the kitchen and splashes in Noob Kitty’s water bowl. She immediately says, “No!” with an admonishing finger wag. What can I say, I’m impressed with her impression of me.
To Compare or Not Compare, That is the Question
It’s been really fun for all us (especially Noob Baby) trying to teach her new words and eagerly waiting to see if she’ll be able to say something new. However, as I was thinking about NB2.0’s growth, I couldn’t help but compare her progress to her big sis. As much as we try not to compare our children, the first child naturally becomes the barometer for the second. When you’ve had four years in between your children, many developmental milestones become foggy, so you end up comparing them just to make sure everything is as it should be.
So, Noob Daddy and I have noticed that little sis is acquiring new words at a slower pace than her predecessor noob. First off, I’m not worried. But I do reflect on these things. Obviously, each child is unique and develops differently. Yet, I’m conscious of the fact that having more than one child means that my time and attention is inherently divided. There are two children to nurture amongst the daily household responsibilities. The first time around, I had all the time in the world just to focus on Noob Baby. We were like two peas in a pod! We would go out to the park several times a week, sing songs in the car, practice learning letters, and read, read, read! It’s funny how at the time things felt chaotic and confusing as a first time mom, but in retrospect, things were really chillax compared to the juggling act now.
NB learned her alphabet by one-and-a-half and knew many sight words by age two. She was reading independently by three. Obviously, I have a passion for teaching, reading, and literacy, so I was able to pass those interests on to her rather naturally by exposing her to all those things throughout the day. I know that many parents make a crazy effort to talk talk talk (almost incessently) to their children nonstop because they’ve been told the vocabulary will get absorbed and improve their child’s language acquisition. Maybe you’ve all heard this parent at the park before:
Do you like swinging? Are you going down the slide? Good job, sliding! Look at your nose! Now you’re walking. Look at the clouds! There’s the sky. Hi, sky! Oops you tripped. Wheeeeee! Isn’t this fun? Now you’re breathing. Good job blinking! Isn’t blinking fun?
Crazy Is as Crazy Does
It’s hard, I know, to find the right balance! On the one hand you want your child to learn all these exciting new words, but on the other hand…. you sound like a crazy person and everyone wants to punch you a little. I always tried to err on the
sane calm conversation side with NB and let her discover things on her own. It probably also has to do with the fact that I’m an introvert and find lots of small talk draining.
But back to NB2.0. I feel like this time around, I’ve really been stretched thin. The choice to converse incessantly with my child (whether or not I like it) is gone. I’m constantly bogged down with meal prepping, cleaning up after a meal, picking up toys, running to and from school, daily housework, phone calls and appointments, driving to NB’s extracurricular classes etc. Laundry! How do people with more than four members of a household do laundry?! I’m definitely running some shit ass Chinese laundry over here where mildew and wrinkle is not just a promise…it’s a GUARANTEE.
Poor NB2.0 is the perfect second child. She knows how to play independently better than her sister ever did … and can for that matter. She’s an observer and a wild one. When the baby gates are open, there’s no dark creepy room that’ll deter her. Big Sis will just sorta linger outside the room and say it’s too dark and nonchalantly come back to hang out with us. Lil sis, on the other hand, will be in the pitch black Bloody Mary bathroom unraveling mounds of toilet paper into the toilet like it’s 1999. The blessing is that she’ll
play wreak mad havoc while I get things done or smooth over a 5-year-old tantrum. (Yes. They’re very real.) But the curse is that it’s easy to get distracted and forget to set aside the quality time to converse, play, and respond to NB2.0.
And that’s really a very important factor in the bigger picture. RESPONSE. If a parent is distracted or not focused on responding to a child, will it affect the child’s development… or more specifically, vocabulary development and speech acquisition? Yes.
On Next Week’s Episode of Noob Mommy…
In my next post, I’m going to highlight a chapter from an incredible book called Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman that examines the impact of call-and-response in children’s language development. I must have missed the memo on this New York Times Bestseller back when it first came out in 2009, but boy am I glad I heard about it on NPR. I strongly recommend you order a copy here or find one at the library.
I’ve been blown away by the research presented and refuted in this book, which is why I wanted to share it with you all. All the chapters dispel common myths about children and parenting, but I really believe many of you will find the chapter Why Hannah Talks and Alyssa Doesn’t very enlightening and relevant as new parents. Many of you have newborns or little one’s that are probably babbling right now or will be before you know it! Perhaps you’re searching for new ways to get your little noob to talk. You’ll want to hear what you should be doing! For me, reading this chapter alone has really motivated me to refocus my “present” time with NB2.0 and make it high-quality and response-based. Not really because I want her to speak more, but because I think I need to be a less distracted parent and a better responder.
What’s your experience?
I was wondering, do any of you seasoned parents out there have the same experience and/or feelings of being stretched thin? Or not having as much “quality” time for your second as you did the first child? Did your first and second children etc. learn to speak at a similar pace? Have you noticed any major differences between your children’s development based on what you did similarly or differently? I’d love to hear your experiences! Please leave me a comment. Until next time… when I’ll shed some light on children’s vocabulary acquisition a la Noob Mommy Cliff Notes: Nurture Shock.
P.S. I wasn’t paid to review this book, but if you do decide to purchase Nurture Shock from my Amazon affiliate link, I will be grateful as always.