Porting two baby-related threads over from Twitter.
Kid things I had no idea about, but that totally make sense now: a short list.
1) When you teach a toddler some sign language, they will babble with their hands. Eye contact, big hopeful smile, incomprehensible hand motion. "Does this gesture mean anything? What about this?"
2) They will also come up with their own meanings for signs. We're pretty sure Kit signs "milk" to mean "I want".
3) Kids wrestling with object permanence and separation anxiety will apply it to EVERYTHING, like the end of a story. When we close a book, Kit looks worried until we show them that the story is still there when we open it up again.
4) The eye-contact look that will soon be "I'm doing a naughty thing" starts out as "I'm doing a thing that makes me happy"—maybe more specifically as "Will you come be happy with me as I do this thing that makes me happy?". It's so hopeful. And I can clearly see the seeds of "You AREN'T going to be happy that I'm doing this thing that makes me happy" in it.
5) So many things we think of as obvious delimiters are invisible to children. Social, not physical. Like "draw on paper, not table". To a kid with a marker, every surface is a surface that can have marker on it. I was in awe the other day watching Kit very carefully draw a line across the paper, over the clipboard, and onto the table. One line, no hesitation. It wasn't a transgressive thing. It was just where they were making their art. No differentiation between media whatsoever.
They also don't readily perceive verbal delimiters. Sound, word, and phrase are all one concept to them. When J says "turn the page" or I say "clap your hands" Kit understands those as whole concepts, like spoken pictograms. If I said "clap your feet" they'd be puzzled because "clap" as a verb doesn't exist for them yet.
I remember oaknfell saying that teaching a kid to read is one long process of apologizing for the English language. Pretty sure teaching Kit to talk is going to involve a round of that too.
I get the phonics thing now—the struggle to explain to children that "clap your hands" has spaces in it, that "clap" itself is "c l a p". If you only hear language, those divisions are in no way intuitive.
An appallingly adorable baby anecdote
We have a blanket that has a hood. The hood has ears and a little bear face. It is very cute. Today X and I were curious about Kit's object permanence and had that blanket over them in the stroller, so we hid one of their hands in the hood.
"Kit, where's your hand? Where's your hand?" They didn't care. Too many other things to look at out in the world. So I tapped their right hand, which was on top of the blanket. "There's your right hand. Where's your other hand?"
They looked at the hood over their hand and immediately decided it was a NEW BEAR FRIEND.
They reached out with their right forefinger and booped its nose—I am not making this up, this really happened—and then they brought it to their face and face-hugged it. They were so happy. "The bear ate my hand and now I have a BEAR FRIEND HAND and everything is GREAT."
They did not appear concerned about their missing hand at all. Who cares when there is a fuzzy bear face to press your face against?
X and I could hardly walk for laughing. Kit happily hugged the bear friend all the way home.
I must get this child some hand puppets. It will be epic.