There was a moment not long after she turned two when we were in a huge store together, wandering around. I knew that she knew the word “table” as well as its Spanish equivalent, “mesa,” but I hadn’t yet begun to point out to her that she knew two words for every one thing. There in the store I decided it was time: “Tu tienes muchas palabras, Jojo, ¿verdad que si (You have a lot of words, Jojo; you know how to say a lot of things don’t you)?” “Si,” she responded proudly. “¿Esto qué es (What’s this)?” I asked her, pointing to a table for sale. “Mesa” she said easily. “¿Y también es un table (And is it also a table)? She looked at me and smiled. “Tu sabes dos palabras para cada cosa (You know two words for each thing).
“¿Esto qué es? (What’s this)? I asked pointing this time to a chair, “Silla,” she says. “¿Y la otra palabra (And the other word)? She looked at me for help. So I started, “Cha…..” “Chair!” she shouted.
We went around the store that day pointing things out and naming them in both languages and she nodded and smiled proudly whenever I told her how special she was for knowing so many words.
We are so far beyond those days now. The other day she called out “¡Adios, Mama!” and turned to her daddy as she walked out the door with him and explained, “I said goodbye to Mommy…in Spanish!” She knows now that she speaks two languages.
I didn’t know when we’d get to the point where she’d start learning synonyms in Spanish, but apparently we’re there.
She wants to know everything we’re saying and wants to understand what things mean. “¿Qué estás hablando de (What are you talking about)?” is her favorite phrase these days (She constructs that sentence like she would an English one: it should be “¿De qué estás hablando?”). She’ll even think for a minute after I say something and if she didn’t get it she’ll turn back to me and say, “Mama, que dijiste (what did you say)?” Yesterday I asked her if she wanted me to tie a knot (un nudo) in the strap on her purse which was too long, and she said “No” immediately. Then she came back to me and said, “Qué es un nudo (What’s a knot)?”
I no longer have to rely only on describing what a word means, or showing her what something is. I can think about her current vocabulary and drag up a similar word. Enter the synonym:
Continuar/Seguir: I asked her if she wanted me to “continuar (continue)” when we were reading the other day and she asked, “Continuar ¿qué es (What is continue)?” “Seguir (keep going),” I answered. “Oh.” “¿Quieres que siga (Do you want me to keep going)?” “Si.”
Guapa/Linda: “Qué guapa está tu bebe (Your baby is so beautiful!)” I told her last week after she pretended to put lipstick on her doll. “Que linda estás (You’re so pretty!)” she says to her baby.
Bonachon/Bueno: There’s a “leon bonachon (kind lion)” in one of her favorite books and she wants to know what “bonachon” means. It means, “bueno,” —that’s all I have to tell her.
Poderoso/Fuerte: While reading a book earlier this week, I even asked her to stretch her brain and see if she could figure out what a word might mean based on context. We have a book from the library called El Mas Poderoso, and I read with a deep, booming voice for the part of the giant when he brags that he’s “el mas poderoso del mundo (the most powerful in the world).” “Poderoso, ¿que es?” she asks me. “Tu qué piensas (What do you think)? “No sé.” ¿Significa “triste (Does it mean sad)?” “Nooooooo,” she says, “¿Significa gracioso?” “Noooo.” “¿Significia fuerte (Does it mean strong)?” I don’t know if she got the answer from the context of the book or from my face but she says, “¡¡¡Sii!!!”
Poo-poo/Caca: And the funniest one this month— I’m sitting with her in the bathroom while she poops (#momlife), and I ask if she’s done going poo-poo but instead of answering my question she tells me that her teacher at school, Lila, calls it “caca.” And she giggles. We giggle.