Over the weekend, while I was sitting on the living room couch, Ruthie grabbed my foot from off the floor and swung it up onto my other knee.
â€œCurl your legs like a pretzel!â€ she said.
My eyes widened and I looked from her to Bryan, who was sitting across from me.
â€œHave YOU said anything to her about pretzels and legs?â€ I asked him.
â€œNo, but she was eating pretzels earlier today.â€
â€œSo she just made this connection on her own â€“ matching the shape of a pretzel with how my legs look folded up?â€ I asked in shock.
We stared at each other for what seemed like a preschool year, each processing the ramifications of Ruthieâ€™s observation.
She turns three years old in a couple weeks, and already she is learning apart from what I teach her; sheâ€™s observing patterns and making connections between two very different things. I remembered the time, over a year ago, when Bryan asked Ruthie to â€œapologizeâ€ for something, and she turned to me and said, â€œIâ€™m sorry.â€ She had interpreted an abstract idea and translated that into a concrete response. Bryan and I had the same deer-in-the-headlights reaction then, as well.
These connections may be normal developmental stages for toddlers and you are all yawning at me right now, but I am completely fascinated.
I get that children observe our language and mimic what we say, that they take on our mannerisms and speech patterns. Just yesterday Ruthie watched Bryan dipping his hamburger into a pool of ketchup, and she positioned her plate, her arms and the burger in her hands to dip in the same precise way as her daddy. And now, instead of just saying â€œnoâ€ when she is defiant, she says, â€œAhhhh, no.â€ just like I do when I have to think for a second before answering her question.
I GET the mimicking. But thisâ€¦ thisâ€¦ this independent learning just HAS to stop, or Iâ€™ll have to put Ruthie in her auntieâ€™s Squish Machine to make her stop growing.