Saturday, August 8, 2009

Secret Ears

Back in March I spent an hour or so visiting the preschool Zoe is going to attend this September. I was there for circle time, and I remember thinking how advanced the language skills of the children were, and that Zoe was nowhere near that level. I was worried that she would struggle to keep up with the other kids, fall into a deep depression, and start following the moody Oscar the Grouch above the cheerful Elmo. But suddenly Zoe is talking almost perfect sentences (by perfect I mean non-grammatical, three or four word, frequently random, and often needing some parental interpretation sentences). She sometimes gets a little embarrassed when we can’t figure out what she is saying, but after I ridicule her and… I mean encourage her to repeat herself or show me, if she can, we can most often figure out what she is saying. Anyway, I’m no longer worried that she won’t be able to speak well enough to keep up with the other kids. Now I’m worried that she’s going to start talking and never stop.

Talking about school, back in my February 22 blog, The Preschool Edition, Part 1 I mentioned that we were soundly and unceremoniously rejected from one particular preschool. I suspected that that particular school actually enjoyed sending rejection letters and probably published a booklet each fall filled with the names of every family that was turned away, which would then be handed out to parents of children who were accepted. It would instill in those parents a sense of superiority that would help soften the blow of the monthly registration fee. A few days ago I received a call from that school telling me that they had an opening, and if we were still interested the spot was ours. I soundly laughed my rejection of their offer (by soundly laughing I mean I politely said no thank you). I also heard from another family that they too received the same call. They also turned the offer down. So I say, Ha! How the mighty have fallen. Actually I didn’t really say that, but I wondered how many people they had to call before they got to me? As a reminder, Zoe was accepted into The Gay Austin School, the most prestigious preschool in Berkeley (by prestigious I mean one that is within a fifty yards of both a coffee shop with free WiFi and a pizza parlor), and certainly the school with the most embarrassing name.

Back on the subject of language, Zoe has started mirroring our speech. If we say something she will often repeat it. We are often in the habit of talking over her, having a conversation that we think is either too advanced for her, or speaking when we think she is distracted is some activity. The other afternoon I was beginning to prepare dinner and Zoe was sitting in her usual spot in front of one of the cabinets, removing items and placing them strategically around the kitchen so that I would periodically trip. She appeared focused on her task and I assumed she was not really paying Alison, who was in the other room playing with Calder, or myself any mind. From the living room Alison said to Calder, “All righty.” And a moment later Zoe whispered to herself, without pausing in her play, “All righty.” So, in the future, when I have to ask her a half-dozen times to do something, I will from now on assume she is simply ignoring me, and not that she is suffering from some sudden onset of hearing loss.

I had fallen behind, but now you can see recent photos of Zoe and Calder at

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