Learning to Take Turns

The holidays take us away from our daily rituals and that’s both the good and bad part of it, so this is the first chance I’ve had to get back on the horse of my writing practice. As I write, the image of one of the highlights of my holidays comes to me, my four-month old granddaughter, Kyra Joy jumping on her daddy’s knee.  She pulls against his arms that surround her trunk, seemingly poised to jump off of a high diving board into the open space in front of her. Adult relatives gathered around are having their first meeting with her and her charms; her dimples and smiles, and the sound of her laughter, she captivates everyone.

She seems to know that all eyes are upon her, and she relishes this assignment as the star of the show. Rather quickly, she recognizes our conversation as a game that involves taking turns making sounds. Someone says something, and then another person contributes his or her sounds. Uncle Bill makes sounds, so Kyra Joy contributes hers. Cousin Ethan speaks and Krya Joy answers him. Her utterances are not words yet, but she makes every attempt to improvise sounds with her voice and by changing the shape of her tongue.

As the grandmother I remember her Aunt Corinne at this age, always the center of attention in any family gathering. As the first grandchild on either side everyone saw her as the miracle gift that each child truly is. I remember when Krya’s dad, Kevin, came along two years later he didn’t speak or even much try to talk till he was 3 years old. When he finally did speak, it came in long full sentences, not pronounced very well. I always thought he hadn’t taken the time to practice. But his daughter is starting her practice early and catching on already to the notion that the main idea is not just to create one’s own sounds but to also listen carefully when someone else is making theirs.

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