Isabelle’s Lament

Last night as I was cleaning up the remnants of dinner, my husband came in from the playroom where he had been entertaining the kids.

“We really have not done right by Isabelle.”

He said with a shake of his head and a little chuckle.


He went on to explain his recollection of Zachary at her age. By 18 months, his vocabulary was chock full of deliciously polysyllabic words and could identify animals I never knew existed.  As our only child, we had hours to devote undivided attention to looking at picture books and teaching him new things.  He would suck up each new word like a sponge.

His favorite book was First 100 Animals.  Nothing is more adorable than an 18 month old pointing to an animal and saying “Koockaburra” or “Furry Wombat” or Cockatoo”

We would say it, he would repeat it and remember it.

Then along came baby number two. Isabelle has had about 90 percent less than her older brother in the undivided attention category.  In fact, until she comes waddling toward me, book in hand yelling “book! book!” over and over until she finally hits me in the knees with it to get my attention, I often forget to sit and read with her.

She loves books and happens to share Zachary’s taste in colorful literature.  However, when we open the animal book, she points to each picture and says “Cow!”  We were at the Zoo last weekend and saw many cows. Cows with feathers, cows with wings, cows with scales, cows with snouts, cows with manes….”Cow! Cow! Cow!”

I’m not however concerned about her intellect in the slightest. There is a twinkle and understanding in her eye that says she is smart as a whip, borderline scary. When we actually take the time to teach her a word, she repeats it perfectly. Go figure. You have to actually teach your children things.

We like to think we are conducting a social experiment. What happens when one child is calmly tutored with little distraction, and therefore at two years, 9 months has the conversational skills of a 10-year-old, and the other is left to grab scraps of vocabulary from whatever she can catch by watching the world around her as it whizzes by?  My hope hypothesis is that it will all even out in a year or two. We shall see.

What does Isabelle think of this experiment? In her own words?



8 responses to “Isabelle’s Lament

  1. Heather Vincent Larkin

    She is perfect. Most animals look like cows anyway. 😉


  2. Too funny. We are going thro

  3. I will refrain from mentioning the atrocious discrepancies that happened as each additional child joined my house (the mother guilt is too much). Instead, rest assured that your precious little girl will astound you with all she has absorbed soon. Having conducted plenty of social experiments in my house, it seems that the subjects were never even aware of experiment’s variables. The one most affected was the hack scientist conducting said experiments.

    Besides, she may be aware of a genetic link between bovine and other animal species that has yet to have been identified. 😉

  4. My first, whom we were convinced was gifted (and ironically IS, but hides it better than anyone in the history of mankind), was walking around the house at 2 years and three months pointing at the stove and saying “hot? Hot? Hot?” wow! We were so proud! Then along came number 2, who was uttering complete sentences at a year and a half, and who, when she lost a ball under the entertainment center at 14 months, went to find a yard stick, returned and laid on the floor, slid the yardstick behind the ball and retrieved her lost object… Hmmm…. Thank God they came in that order or we may have been concerned over number one… Kids are exciting, aren’t they? Like a box of cracker jacks!

  5. This was one of my biggest fears about the second one. But you know what? My second, at 2 years old, can ride a scooter like a teenager, do cartwheels, pretend to spell (“a p d b t b p d”), and talk about wanting to go to school. They miss out on a lot. But they get more than we could ever give a first. Kids don’t need book learning, like I DROWNED my first in. They need social learning, which second children get naturally.
    And that’s how I sleep at night, with my poor, dumb, barnyard-ignorant second child by my lazy, “why bother forcing this one to sleep when it doesn’t work anyway” self. 😉

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