Bedtime with Lauryn is a ritual, with no deviations. Well, there are variations, but only Lauryn can make changes to the routine – changes that Madge and I try to avoid. She's fallen, somewhat, into the practice of trying to stretch out teeth-brushing, story-reading, and song-singing as long as possible. Most nights it all goes well, but there's always some sort of challenge.
Two stories, two songs, and a lullabye, then the music box and lights out. That's the pattern.
Lately, instead of me reading and singing everything, she's taken to splitting the reading tasks between the two of us. Sometimes I need to "help," but surprisingly she does quite well.
Naturally, at being just a couple of weeks short of 3 years, she most certainly cannot read, but in reading mostly the same 20 books over the past 2 years every night, several have been committed to memory.
Tonight it was Piglet's New Friend, a board book with a moveable Piglet. The words on each page were perfectly recited, word for word, as pages were turn just at the right time (and Piglet was moved appropriately). However, she surprised me tonight when it was time to sing.
We used to just sing regular songs. While I was in San Diego, the ritual changed (according to her demands) so that we now sing made-up songs that are about the two stories we just read. Tonight, as we each read one story, we each also had to sing a song.
After singing mine, and struggling to remember what we had just read about (including enough details to sufficiently satisfy her song criteria so I don't have to sing it again, better), Lauryn followed up by flopping around on her bed, reciting the entire story, word for word (except the last page).
Piglet's New Friend
"Who do we have here?" Pooh asked, unpacking his picnic basket.
"It's a caterpillar," Piglet exclaimed.
"Maybe he'd like to try some honey," Pooh suggested.
"Careful, Pooh!" Piglet warned. "Honey is too sticky for caterpillars."
Piglet spotted his new friend on Eeyore's lunch.
"Maybe he'd like to try some of my thistles," Eeyore offered.
"I think thistles may be too prickly for caterpillars," Piglet explained.
"Piglet, my kite's stuck!" moaned Roo.
"If I can squeeze through these bushes, maybe I can free it," said Piglet.
"Look!" said Roo. "The caterpillar wants to help, too!"
The hungry little caterpillar began munching the green leaves.
"You've found some lunch!" Piglet said. "Now I can have mine."
Kid's books often don't have the most compelling of stories, in my opinion, but evidently this one is worth remembering. (grin)
Also, while its been a few months since she convinced us of her ability to remember stories (and songs), I always assumed that the recollection of the exact words was keyed to the images on a specific page (or the tune of a song). I've probably read this story to her about half the number of times that she's heard it, and while I could tell you the gist of it, I would never remember at which point the book says "Piglet warned." Yet with no cues, her young and sponge-of-a mind has captured and can recall this funny book.
If you're a parent, or will be a parent, or every spend time around a young child (which should include about everyone), never forget how much impact your speech and actions can have on that child. Little "pitchers" have big ears, so don't expect them to speak or act differently than you, their example, and don't underestimate their capacity to learn and comprehend.