"Being a good dad starts with presence not presents"
'Del Monte Quality, Guatemala, 4011' Lucy switches her gaze between me and the label she has peeled of the banana she is slowly devouring. After finishing she looks back up at me, stuff that last piece of banana in her mouth and with an 'OK' goes back about the business of being a 3 year old.
When Lucy was getting ready to come into the world, Sheena and myself were trying to devour copious amounts of information about child development and giving your kid a good start. From Brain Rules for Babies to The Wealthy Barber Returns we read, or listened to, as much as possible to help plan educationally, financially and emotionally for our kids arrival. When it came to talking it seemed like most places were throwing out 30,000 words a day for a toddler to hear which is around 12 million words by the time they reach the age of three and they are doing well.
So whats the plan? how many words is 30,000. Well its cat in the hat 18 times but that could get tedious. What about reading more adult books. Yes, but sometimes when i'm reading those its nice to just do it as my own time. So this is how we decided to do it. When Lucy was young, to young to talk we narrated everything. Cooking dinner, driving the car and even grocery shopping (yes we got many weird looks while having a conversation about bread with a baby). As she start to get mobile anything she brought to us we would read. The canned beans, the flyer from the newspaper and the label on an avocado. It was weird at first but then became a habit. I found myself unable to stop, 30,000 seemed like a breeze now. The best part was that because we were reading labels and flyers and pretty much everything to her, she was hearing an abundance of new words that we most likely wouldn't have used otherwise. This was, of course, on top of our nightly reading as well. As Lucy got to the stage where she was talking and beyond she loved and still loves a good read. There are weekly visits to the library to get new books and we sit down once a day (at least) and meander through a story or two. I think partly due to the amount of reading we put in early Lucy and now even Tilley will sit down to be read to over any TV show.
When about 6 months go we had a family member stay with us for a few months and I laughed when she had been out with Lucy a few times and described it as 'Life Narrated by Lucy'. Inadvertently we had turn Lucy into a walking tour guide. If she new the word or how to describe it she was tell you and still does. which is great for her young sister now (although sometimes I can see Tilley's wandering if Lucy is ever going to shut up). Lucy still bring me random things to read and I still jump on it, i'm never one to turn down a good read of where our bananas came from or what exactly are all the address' of Ikea in Canada.