Gimme an I! Gimme a W!

So I’m giving Dante his bath a few nights ago. He has these flat foam letters and numbers that he plays with as bath toys, which have the excellent property of adhesion to a flat surface when they’re wet. So you can stick them up on the tile wall to spell things out. I’ve occasionally done this with things like his name, or words like BATH, SOAP, etc. We also sometimes play a game where he picks up two letters and I try to come up with a name or phrase that matches the initials.

There’s only one copy of each letter (though we have more like a set and a half at this point, since we bought a new set after about half the letters had gotten lost from the first one), so there are a lot of words you either can’t spell or have to spell creatively.

Anyway, he’s playing with the letters, only some of which were in the bath, and he says to me, “I need an I.” So I search out an I and give it to him.

“I need a W,” he says immediately. Okay, W found, and at this point I just pour the rest of the letters in. He keeps calling. I need an A! I need an S! When he called for the second N, I couldn’t find it, so I improvised with a V and a 1. Finally he’s called for about 14 different letters and numbers, all of which he’s holding in his hands. Then he stands up, and makes this:

HOLY. CRAP. Now, full disclosure, it didn’t look like that at first. The first draft was this:

S BORN IN 2009

He started with the first I, but chose a poor location and ran into the soap dish after a few letters, so then he moved up a line. I read the results out loud to him: “It looks like you wrote, ‘S’born in 2009. Iwa.'” As I was saying “S’born,” he immediately moved the I WA to its rightful place. Then when I got to the 2009, he said, “Nope!” and then grabbed a five to displace the 9.

There are moments when he absolutely floors me, and this was one of them. He conceived this sentence in his mind and called for the letters one at a time. Not to mention actually knowing and comprehending the fact of his birth year. Did I mention that he just turned 4 in June? I brought Laura in to show her, and she said, “Wait. *He* did this?” My friend Trish said it’s kind of like one of those poltergeist movies — there’s a message on the wall, but the only one here is my 4-year-old!

I sometimes get the uncomfortable feeling that I’m bragging about my kid when I write this stuff. I don’t mean it that way, though of course I do love to see what he can do. I feel more like a journalist with a really fascinating subject. I can’t wait to see what happens next.


8 thoughts on “Gimme an I! Gimme a W!

  1. I sometimes get the uncomfortable feeling that I’m bragging about my kid when I write this stuff.

    Please, bragging or not, don’t stop! I love these stories.

    I and my husband were both also literate at a very young age…at the risk of flattering you, I think it has a lot to do with parental involvement, encouragement and patience. Certainly the case with us.

    Michael’s mother once related a story where he had some alphabet blocks, he was 3 at the time I think, and he kept asking her over and over “what’s this one? what’s that one?” to the point of annoyance. Instead of telling him to go away and leave her alone, she answered each time, and once he had learned them all it stopped. And not long after that he was reading.

  2. I brag about him to everyone,my mouth is hanging open every time I read a new entry. His smile says it all!
    Aunt Ellen

  3. Absolutely — WOW! All the way from Ann Arbor!

    Keep up the great “reporting” – stories are so fun to read!


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