Last week I realized that most of the time Josie comes wandering over toward me, grabs my calves, looks up at me and starts making emphatic garbly-gook, it means she wants to look out the window. It’s tough being short. Seriously, get down on the ground at her level, and you’ll notice that while you can become a wonderful observer of clouds, treetops, and the occasional bird, the real action is going on at ground level. Particularly all those car sounds along our road. So I rearranged the couch to be below the window so now I can pick her up, plop her against the couch’s back and let her watch the world pass by. But as anyone who’s spent time with kids, or can remember being one themselves, she was more interested in the moth.
There was a tiny moth, less than half an inch long, yesterday on the inside window sill which she transfixed her. So today after I hoisted her up there I said, “Ooh, maybe we’ll see the moth.” It wasn’t there, but as I looked for it, my eyes widened. I’d won the insect lotto – a tiny black and white jumping spider.
“Josie! Look a jumping spider!”
This was very exciting for a one year old. I’m constantly amazed at how she can focus and fixate on tiny – and I mean really tiny – things. She will carry around a tiny piece of bark the size of a lentil all afternoon. So to see something so small and animate, well this was pretty mind blowing.
Then she furrowed her brow, and looked at me while she fumbled with her hands. It took me a second to realized what she was doing, but then I realized that she was signing ‘spider?’ I don’t know what the ASL sign for spider is, but they were the same hand motions she does when we sing ‘the itsy-bitsy spider.’ I was pretty floored.
It’s these connections between language and the real world that are so neat about this age. Her language comprehension has gone through the roof lately (I’m guessing she understands around 100 words now), even while her ability to verbalize has barely improved. I completely understand now why sign language is taught to toddlers. Signing is a great way to bridge the gap in time between her brain’s foundation work for language and her tongue’s ability to communicate it. I’m glad that we’ve been teaching her some sign, but I wish now we’d done more.
In talking with our friends with older toddlers, they’ve said that 15 months is around when their language really takes off and they become little parrots. I find this pretty hard to wrap my head around, but Josie walks everywhere now and that’s pretty normal now. So maybe I should aim high – Shakespeare soliloquys by 16 months? Hmmm. No, I think I’d be much happier by a solid “Stove – Hot!”