Thursday, May 26, 2011
I've lost my voice, or rather it's still there (just), but it doesn't sound like mine: all croaky and husky and completely ridiculous! Anyway, it's made me aware of just how much I talk all day. Whether it's explaining things to my children, or chatting away to other mothers, I never seem to stop! I guess I've always been a big talker - I have my mother to blame for that - but I remember finding it quite difficult to think of things to talk about to my baby. Another woman in my mums' group, who was pretty reserved and very quiet, was really worried about her inability to chat away to her little one. She asked the child health nurse, in all seriousness, whether she could just have talk-radio playing all day instead. Would her baby girl pick up language in that way? Well, she found books were the answer, as I have done. If you can't bring yourself to prattle away about every little thing you do all day (I actually can do this now, but I feel a bit crazy), then reading books to your baby offers a great way to engage with them and inspire further "conversation". When they do finally start talking back to you, and you realise how much they have been absorbing, all those one-sided exchanges no longer seem in any way silly or pointless. This evening, I croaked my way through a fairy-tale, all the while wondering if it was entirely appropriate bedtime reading for a 3 year old, and then found myself explaining that while people in books are often either good or bad, in real life things aren't so simple. Most people are good, I found myself saying, but sometimes they do bad things.... I guess what I'm getting at, is that lately reading stories to my girl is not only about telling her a tale; it's explaining all manner of other things about the world to her. She no longer sits quietly, passively absorbing it; now, she is asking questions, picking apart the stories, trying to really understand and figure it all out. We've come a long way from the days when I reached for a book because I couldn't think of anything else to say. A book is the beginning of a conversation, which is of course, how it should be. I only hope my voice returns before tomorrow's story-time.