I'm her mother, so I'm allowed to be impressed
Last night, while Paul was reading Julia a bedtime story and she was following along and trying to identify all of the words on the page, she made the following observation:
"'Long' is actually a very short word. That's confusing."
She's right. Like so much of the English language, it is confusing. But it never would have occurred to me to notice. As cool as I think it is that my nearly-3 year old is doing her damnedest to teach herself to read, I'm feeling a little over my head here. Julia's currently sight reading a little over a dozen words (cat, zoo, pizza, etc.) with no visual clues and dozens more with the aid of a picture on the page or the shape of a sign (i.e. the word "frog" under the picture of a frog or the word "stop" on an octagonal red sign). She knows what sound each letter makes and can figure out what a word begins and ends with by saying it out loud, but she's still mystified by the blends in the middle of words and the concept of vowels. She'll read both "red" and "rod" as "red" right now, since she knows that both start with a "rrr" and end with a "ddd" and she simply guesses what the middle sound would be. Clearly, there's still a pretty big cognitive leap she'll need to make before she's a reader, and I'm unclear whether she'll make that leap in 2 weeks or 2 years. But in the meantime, she's making observations about language and asking me questions daily that are keeping me on my toes. I almost feel like I'm going to need a degree in elementary education to get through the next couple of years.
When I pictured parenting a nearly-3 year old, I pictured temper tantrums and nursery rhymes. Instead, I find myself doing basic phonics and simple addition and subtraction equations. The kid hasn't even discovered Barbie dolls yet and already she can figure out what 2+3 is in her head (don't ask me where she got the idea to try this in the first place). What I can't figure out is which one of us is on a more traditional track. Kids do grow up faster these days, and it's entirely possible that most kids her age in upper middle class households are doing all of the stuff she's doing right now and I'm just hopelessly naive in my image of the average preschooler. But if so, I want to get my hands on the other parents' cheat sheets asap. Because the questions are coming fast and furious these days and I'll be damned if I can remember what the rule is for when an e is supposed to be silent. What ever happened to "why is the sky blue?" Not that I could answer that one either. I thought I had a little time left before my kids started to make me feel stupid. Wrong again.