By Karen Andreola
“Mom, quick!” my little girl said, tugging at my skirt. “It’s Puff” (the name of our hamster). She continued: “Come. He’s in the kitchen. He’s eating Tina’s food. He likes it. It’s increb-i-bulls. Come.” She ran downstairs. I followed. What a sight. Puff sat nervously at the edge of the cat dish nibbling dry cat food. He began stuffing both cheeks. Tina the cat crouched at an unsafe distance, watching with intense interest but placidly as if to say, “Only too glad to be rid of the stuff.” My eldest child was on guard ready to make a move in case Tina wanted a juicier entrée for breakfast or something entertaining to paw. How Puff escaped his cage is a mystery, but we put him back with hopes he wouldn’t soon suffer indigestion.
Children express themselves with an ever-increasing vocabulary long before they begin their first language arts lessons. My 5-year-old’s simple speech with her “increb-i-bulls” was a peek into that “art of telling” that is in every child’s mind, waiting to be discovered.
When a child is very young, we take joy in watching his first toddling steps. We record his first words until there are too many and we are far too busy following him around to keep track. Once conventional school starts, what is a young child expected to do? Sit down and be quiet—for long, long stretches of time. (more…)