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A Manner of Speaking May/Jun '10

by Bonnie Neugebauer
May/June 2010
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/a-manner-of-speaking/5019304/

I’d dozed off in the predawn light; and when I peeked, there she was looking at me, watching me sleep, watching me peek. Her stare looked all the way into me. I may be many things she does not yet understand, but I have no secrets.

Schon, almost 2, like Zachary, almost 3, watches and she copies. Even Jonah at four-and-a-half months sees me, really sees me. And 3-week-old Caroline is beginning.

It’s when children use their observations to imitate that I realize the great focus and intensity they bring to their observations. Schon uses her mama’s voice to talk to her babies and her stuffed monkey. Zachary is beginning to speak for his animals, particularly panda puppet �" the falsetto and the head tilt are familiar.

There’s such responsibility in being really seen. And in seeing back. It makes me want to be my very best self �" for them, but for myself, too. And at the same time it makes me feel important.

So, children study us with great intensity and thereby empower us and set a high bar for our behavior. When we look back, do we communicate the same level of respect in our follow-up? Could we imitate their voices, words, ...

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