If these blogs have been remiss in crowing about my fabulous granddaughter, it’s only because I don’t want to waste a minute of time with her spent writing about her instead. But now that she's napping, I'm off trying to sneak one in. If she already stole my heart the moment I first saw her almost two years ago, now it’s on ongoing case of breaking and entering. In the mere three days since I’ve been here, her spoken vocabulary has virtually doubled! It’s an extraordinary feat to witness, this explosion of language and how it changes her life.
Her Dad relayed in hilarious pantomime a look she used to give him sitting on the couch before she was mobile, one he interpreted as “I’m really not happy that I have to sit here while you get to walk around.” And it’s true that she seemed more content crawling and then walking and now jumping, skipping, galloping and oh my, the dancing! More independence, more control, more choice, more freedom, more opportunity to get to explore this big wide world.
And now the same is true as she inhales each new word and starts to piece together her own forming thoughts and needs and desires and observations in little sentences. Why do we make such a fuss about oil on Hanukah or the Virgin of Guadulupe? Isn’t this miracle enough? And as she speaks, she gains a different kind of control, a different freedom of expression, a different way to explore and get to know the world. And she is markedly happier because of it all.
From these short phrases to the eventual jewels of Shakespeare on the tongue, language’s promise to both make sense of apparent chaos and bathe in its soothing music. The truth may set us free, but the truth articulated in eloquent language will make us freer yet, showering us with controlled expression and expressive control. It gives us the inner power that is the best antidote to the temptation of firearms and killer video games and addictive shopping and ceaseless swearing.
And hearkening back to an old essay of mine, Dance, Sing and Read, I hold by my sense that expressing oneself through the articulated body, through the singing voice, through ideas beautifully spoken and understood, is a pretty good way to navigate through this life. Zadie is enjoying the first fruits of all three and it is a wonder to behold.