Sunday, October 11, 2009

From Wiggles to Words

26 squiggles on paper. That is how reading starts. At some point those squiggles begin to turn into letters that turn into sounds that turn into words that turn into sentences that turn into pages that turn into stories, and experiences, and characters that become part of us from early memories of reading "Llama, llama Red Pajama" to writing in the barn with Charlotte,to solving mysteries with Nancy, to crying with Billy for Old Dan and Little Ann, to fighting fate with Romeo, and all the other loves, and losses, and lessons that we are given by the magic of books.

Ryder's entry into deciphering the magical squiggle code began months ago when he first started making sounds. He would be mostly accurate in telling us what sounds the letters a, b, f, m, p, and s made before he could say too many words. He then started being able to repeat the letters of the alphabet...well, almost. That sweet, precious baby voice would mimic us as we asked him to say A, then B, then C....all the way to W, and then....

he simply would say "no." He would pick back up with W, finish the alphabet, and clap and say "Yay!"

Soon the "W no" became the W wiggle. The other 25 letters of the alphabet were repeated dutifully, but the W had no words, just a wiggle. So of course, our favorite letter was W. We knew one day it would stop, just like "upbo" simply became "up" or like the dancing every time he heard music phase faded out, but we really, really loved the W wiggle that fit our quirky litte baby pretty perfectly.

We were at Papa Bear and Gigi's house the day the W was firt spoken. On our way out, they were asking Ryder to say all his very cute and sweet words, and he was repeating them to the general delight of us all. We were so excited to hear our brilliant baby (all the grandparents totally agree that he is brilliant :) repeating words, when Papa Bear said, "Say W," and we all expected to laugh at the wiggle, but it was trickery and deception. There was no A, B, C, or even T, U, V requested. All out of context, Ryder was asked to say W, and....... HE DID. He said it. He said "W."

We heard that W, and we didn't know what to say, but we also didn't have a chance to say it, because Ryder IMMEDIATELY said, "No, No, No, NOT W!.....X, X, X!!!" Whew! Our sweet, precious baby wasn't saying sounds as vile as "W" after all; he was simply tricked.

However, that trickery opened the door to more W sayings. We would still get our wiggles, but sometimes, he would say "W," much to our disappointment. Now, the wiggles are all gone, and they are replaced by perfectly unfunny and completely correct pronunciations of the letter. It happened so gradually that I can't even say when the wiggles stopped.

The other day, Ryder came downstairs carrying a letter. (He has all 26 foam bath letters in his bathtub. I know that a responsible mom should only place a few letters in the tub at a time to not create such a mess, but that are just so bright and colorful, and the bath just looks like so much fun with all the letters, a few ducks, a couple of balls, a bath book, and a few other toys. And Ryder does love baths :) . He said, "Look, Mom. I got a W." And sure enough, he did.

So Ryder recognizes W now, and will frequently point it out when we read. His favorite bath letters are the two Ws (we have 2 Ws and 0 Ms apparently). This morning in Bible class, he was patting the Bible, and singing the song, and points out the W in the words "New Testament" on his Bible. All the girls in the room agreed that he is brilliant (of course, that was my mom, Mrs. Kimmy, who LOVES her Sunday school babies, and Ryder's friend Maggie, who was also all agree is brilliant, and me, so it's not exactly a tough crowd to convince of brilliance in our babies :)

Then, Mrs. Kimmy holds up the Bible words for the lesson, and Ryder reads the words:

Yes, I said "reads" and not repeats. But maybe he was tipped off by something Mrs. Kimmy said in talking about the words.

Ryder asks to do it one more time, and since it is only Maggie and Ryder in class today due to the family retreat, Mrs. Kimmy has time to show them again. This time she shows the words without any prompting words....
and Ryder reads them again.

When she gets to Mary, he says, "a W!" And then we explain the concept of M not being W. Then he says "a Y!" Mom encourages him, "Yes that is a Y, but what does the word say?" and Ryder says, "Mary." What did we expect him to say....nothing and just wiggle?

Wednesday night the toddlers will take turns reading the words again, and I don't know if Ryder will read them again or not, but I do know it is simply amazing how much and how fast these babies learn.

It is a daunting, scary, overwhelming thought that I am going to be responsible for Ryder learning that 26 squiggles turn into letters that turn into sounds that turn into words that turn into sentences that turn into stories, but actually I may just waitforRyder to teach me how that process happens. He may just say, "Mom, it starts with a wiggle, and ends up a word." And I will think he's brilliant, and beautiful, and funny, and I'll be remembering a sweet baby smile, and a funny baby wiggle, and a story of why my forever favorite letter is W.

(Thank you for our pictures, Denise!


  1. Do you even need me to respond to know what I think about this post?! Wow. (and that starts with W!)

  2. This is why you taught English I. So you could keep up with your Wyder :-)

    Btw, Audrey used to call me "Wo." It was pretty cool being a "Wo" for awhile!


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