Counting

Sometimes I worry that I’m bragging too much about Elena. I don’t want to turn into one of those parents who go on and on about supposed accomplishments and milestones. After all, I do blog about her; that’s a clear symptom of BPS (Bragging Parent Syndrome). On the other hand, I get good feedback from Elena’s grandparents, and I don’t spam the blog to facebook too much, so I just have to trust my instincts. It would be easy for me to get carried away describing this particular event, so I needed that sobering preface.

The other day we took Elena swimming before dinner. She must have been hungry when we told her it was time to leave, because she got out without fussing and walked calmly with us back towards our apartment. Elena reached up to take each of us by the hand with one of hers, as she frequently does when we go walking together. Jenny and I decided to take a firmer grip on her hands and swing her up in the air. It’s been a while since we last did this.

I started counting “one, two, three” and then we lifted and swung her forward and back. She loved it. A few steps later, we did it again. Before we could do it a third time, we heard Elena talking. At first it seemed like just regular baby babble, but when we listened closer, we heard a distinct pattern: “unh, ooh, ee, oh, eye, ih.” I don’t expect anyone just reading to catch on*, but it was clear to us that she was counting. Even more, we had only said “one, two, three,” and she kept going with the higher numbers without a prompt. We counted lots of other things that evening, just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.

We have worried about Elena’s language development. She’s so alert and interactive in every other way, but it seems that this one thing might be lagging. Hearing her express herself vocally was music to our ears. As a mathematician, it was doubly sweet that she was using number words! Jenny quickly realized that she must have picked this up from watching Barney and Friends. So maybe not all TV is bad after all.

*It looks different on the screen–try saying the syllables out loud.

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