Hannah loves to learn new words. She’ll catch a piece of a conversation I’m having and will grab onto a word and start using it. Usually wrong. And since I’m a mean mom, I tend to not correct her because using the word wrong is so damn cute and keeps her young. I let her call the thing that changes the channel on the TV a “morote” for years. I think she realized on her own she was saying it wrong because just last week I came to the sad realization that she was all of a sudden saying Remote. She still says Hermendous though, which is my all time favorite. But now, as her vocabulary grows, she’s less saying words incorrectly and more using them incorrectly. This week she’s been describing things as Determined. I asked her today if she ate her lunch and she said, “well, you know mommy, it wasn’t my favorite lunch, it was determined, so I only ate some of it.”
“It was determined?” I asked her.
“Mmmmm Hmmmm” she said, looking nervous that I had caught her doing something wrong.
I wasn’t sure if she was trying to say that she determined that her lunch wasn’t her favorite, so she only ate part of it, or whether she really had NO IDEA what the word meant but wanted to squeeze it in there somehow and this is where it landed. So, instead of making a big deal of it, I just said, “oh, you determined that you didn’t really like turkey? I thought it was one of your favorites.” And I let it go.
She also came home from school today explaining that she had to write a story about a color and she chose purple because it’s the most distinguished color.
“Distinguished?” I repeated.
“Yes, mommy, I used that word to describe purple.” she said as if she knew it was an impressive word and she was patting herself on the back. “I learned it from Curious George on TV.” My turn to pat myself on the back for letting her watch so much TV.
“I think you’re right, purple is a distinguished color.” I told her and then asked her why she thought it was.
“Well, it’s friendly, polite, doesn’t tease and is pretty.” she explained.
I wondered after her explanation which colors are the mean, teasing, and impolite colors. I wondered, but I didn’t ask because those are the kinds of questions that I’ve determined frustrate her and cause Hermendous tantrums.
Today’s word was “anxious”. I taught it to her so I could explain how I was feeling. I came right out and said, “Hannah, mommy is anxious. Do you know what that word means?”
“It means mommy is excited and nervous all at the same time.”
“Oh. Why are you excited and nervous all at once?”
“Because Luke is starting school tomorrow and even though I’m excited for him to make new friends and learn new things, I’m nervous he’ll be sad. I’m nervous that he’ll miss me.”
“Oh. So you’re anxious?’
“Yes. I am.” I told her.
“But he’ll be ok. I’ll be there and I can check on him in his classroom.”
“I know, and that makes me feel better Hannah. But he’s never been anywhere without me or without the other people he loves, so I’m still nervous.” I confessed to my five year old.
I then realized I was probably overwhelming my little girl with all this deep talk about my feelings so I turned the conversation around and asked her if she was anxious about anything.
“Yes. I’m anxious bout Kindergarten.” she (too) quickly responded.
“You are? Why?”
Kindergarten isn’t for another 9 months. I had no idea it was even on her mind.
“Well, I’m excited to take the bus and play on the big playground. But I’m nervous that the kids that I’ll want to play with, won’t want to play with me.”
I had to turn my head away so she didn’t see the tears well up in my eyes. Tears for the fact that at such a young age she’s already experienced this sadness of friends turning their back on her. Tears for the fact that at such a young age she’s already experiencing anxiety. Tears for the fact that I’m so worried about Luke and this new adventure he and I are embarking on, that I didn’t even take the time to see that Hannah is worrying about a future adventure. Tears for the fact that I’ve always taken for granted that she’s FINE with all newness. She jumps right in. She makes friends easily. But really, she’s not always fine. She’s anxious.
But some of the tears that were welling up in my eyes, were happy tears. Because I gave her a word that she can use to let me know this feeling she has. A word to say she’s excited and nervous all wrapped up in one.
So tonight, I’ve “determined” I’m anxious. My baby is spending his first 4 hours away from me and anything that is familiar to him. He’ll be off on his own without any words to let people know how he’s feeling. Just him, his blankie and his new Cars lunchbox.
Wish us all luck.