Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Words

I feel like Lily will never learn to read.

Now, before you decide I'm one of those Moms who goes crazy with the early-reading business. I assure you I am not. I have a Masters Degree in Education. I know what is developmentally appropriate. So it's not that I am impatient. It's simply that I am in awe of how someone could learn to read from the very beginning.

So far, she reads three words.

Lily. Zoo. Ohio.

It used to be that they had to be in a particular font for her to read them. Ohio, for example, needed to be in block green letters. As in Ohio University. (How proud are Mama and Papa that one of her first sight words is their alma mater? Pretty freakin proud.) Lily needed to be handwritten, and just by itself. She didn't identify it in a sentence. Same with zoo.

Now, though, she can find these words anywhere. She brought me my birth certificate the other day. (which was on the counter from the great Car Inspection Debacle.) "Mommy? Does this say Ohio?" Yes. Yes it does.

She can also type these three words on an iphone or computer. Lily. Ohio. Zoo. If you ever get a text from me with a lot of random letters and those words thrown in, you'll know who it's really from.

But despite her having three sight words, it is just beyond my realm of understanding that she'll ever truly be able to read.

It reminds me of the time I thought she'd never truly be able to speak. Like, real thoughts. Which she most certainly does. From the time she wakes up until she is fast asleep. I wrote about her words in January of 2011. She was 20 months old. For the sake of my own nostalgia, and as a mark of how far she's come, I present to you "Out of the Mouths of Babes." If her oral language development is any indication of how her reading and writing will develop, expect her first novel soon.

Out of the Mouths of Babes (January 6, 2011)

My daughter is learning to talk. As a voice teacher and writer, this is about the coolest thing I have ever witnessed in my life. I have outlined her current vocabulary below. To me, this is fascinating. If it’s not fascinating to you, go read something else. is pretty funny. Try that.

Words that you would recognize, that mean what you think they mean:





No (or, N-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-no)



Bye-bye (used as the thing that is said when a person is departing, and the act of the departure itself)

Juice (not just something to drink, but juice, specifically. Always phrased as a question)

Shoe (used for shoes, but also socks and feet, always phrased as a question)



Hot (almost always accompanied by blowing on something imaginary, even if the thing she’s describing as hot is not food)

Yucky (pronounced yuh-KEEEEEEEEE with a giant glottal stop between the syllables)






Exclamations. This could go in the category above, but is fun enough that it gets it’s own category:

Oh no!

Uh-Oh! (these two are interchangeable)


Whoa! (these two are NOT interchangeable. “Wow” is reserved for the impressive or exciting, or when she just feels like saying “wow.” Whoa, on the other hand is only for things like almost falling down but then catching ones’ self. As in, “Whoa, that was a close one.”)

Boo! (It is important to note an expectation here. “Boo” is always terrifying, and the listener must exclaim how terrifying Lily is for having said it.)


Whassat? (What’s that?)

Whaaaaaaat? (always accompanied by hands held out, palms up.)
Note concerning these questions: they are generally completely out of context and do not refer to anything in particular. She just think it’s funny.

Words that are pretty close, and you’d get it if you really thought about it. Or if we were there to translate:

Nah-nah (night-night, or bedtime)

Bah (bath)

Daw (dog)

Da (dance)

Elwo (Elmo)

Dah (down. Yes, dog, dance, and down sound an awful lot alike. Context clues, people)

Peace (please)

Hep (help)

Buh (book)

Kee-kee or Kih-ee (kitty)

Bee-butt (belly button)

Num-num (food, or the way she feels about the food)

Words that sound sort of like one thing, and mean something else entirely:
Mooooooohhhhh? (more. This is her most common word for food, regardless of whether she has had any yet. Origin, I think: “Lily, do you want some more?” This word is starting to mean she just wants something. And it’s up to the listener to discover what that thing is. Always phrased as a question. Always.)

Bah (back. This is her word for containers. Origin, I think: “Lily, put that back.” Often she is explaining she wants not the thing, but the container that holds the thing. Or both.)

You’d never have any idea what she was saying, but it’s cute and she’s using it consistently and correctly so give her a break:
Kee-kew (Thank You)

Uh, *random syllable*, *LOUDER RANDOM SYLLABLE!!!!!* (One, two, three. That’s right, my kid can count. Uh, sort of.)




Baaaaaaaaaah (complete with vibrato)


Beep- beep

Vvvvvvvvv (the sound an engine makes)

Shhhhhhhh (which means be quiet but is also the sound of running water)

Zzzzzzzzz (the sound of zippers and bees)

And our favorite Lily-ism:
Deedle-eedle-eedle-eedle-eedle! (Which doesn’t mean anything except that she’s really happy.)

I would suggest printing this guide and keeping it handy, but a translator will be provided when you visit if you are not yet fluent in Lily.


  1. I'm positive the Deedle-eedle thing is Irish Gaelic. Your daughter is bilingual! ;)

    Thanks for pointing me to your blog!

  2. Dude, deedle-eedle-eedle is Sondheim...

  3. Such a cute post. It reminds me of when my girls were going through these stages. New follower here. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z" challenge and I look forward to visiting again.