Don’t know much about a science book…don’t know much about the French I took…

We’ve been having a lot of posts that make poor Andreas’s blood pressure go up lately and I’m worried I might kill my Science Fellow.

Listen, how would I live with myself? Andreas is one of my favorite people in all the land. In ANY land. He always makes me laugh, and he checks in with me to see how my day is going, and he has a lovely family, and he’s so smart and sciency. My life is such a better place with Andreas in it. What would I do if I killed him off because I made him so angry his whole head exploded because of women’s rights issues or ill-informed American politicians thinking we have a uterine defense system to stop rapist-sperm? Oh, wait, sorry, LEGITIMATE rapist-sperm, not the other kind. Let’s make sure we’re clear.

You know you have the right friends when they email you things such as this. Thank you, R.!

Anyway, as an apology for upsetting Andreas lately, I promised him I would write him a sciency post. One that DOESN’T make his head explode. An ACTUAL sciency post. Andreas totally deserves this, because even though these posts have upset him? He totally still reads them. And comments. That’s a true friend, right there. You all deserve an Andreas.

Today, we’re going to talk about something for TWO people I love: both Andreas AND me! We’re talking about both science AND language. Science for Andreas and language for me. (Bonus: Andreas is also keen on language, and I’m also keen on science, so really, this is a win all around for everyone. WINNING FOR ALL!!!!1!)

Lots to discuss today, my little Footballians. And also Andreas! Thank you for not dying, Andreas. If you do die, please be kind and wait until after I’m dead. I’d much rather not live in a world without you in it. Thank you in advance!

First: children and language and books and school.

I think at this point, everyone’s aware of the benefits of reading to children at a very young age, right? They even say that reading to your pregnant belly (or your lady-friend’s pregnant belly, I don’t want to be sexist) before your baby is born is beneficial – I mean, the kid doesn’t come out knowing the plot of the story, but he or she is more bonded with you, knows the sound of your voice, possibly has a little better-developed brain area. But science totally PROVES we need to be reading to our kiddos! And also that it sets them up to be lifetime readers! So you need to get those books out. If you don’t have kids, find a kid! Read to a kid! Recently, a friend who will remain nameless because I don’t know that it’s public information totally let me long-distance borrow her kiddos and read to them via webcam. IT WAS THE BEST. I read them a book I loved when I was a wee Amy and I had the BEST TIME. (And they seemed to enjoy themselves, as well.) Thank you, top-secret friend who let me borrow your amazing kiddos that I love to pieces and want to give the biggest hugs to! Man, I wish The Nephew was closer. I would read to him every DAY.

Aw! Reading to kids = one of the best things in all the world.

Anyway, per these two articles from one of my FAVORITE sciency websites, Science Daily (who doesn’t want science DAILY? I totally do!) what kiddos learn in preschool influences them for their whole lives. Interesting, right? Apparently, kids that were not only with peers who communicate better but in classrooms where the teachers encourage communication are better prepared for life; and kids that are in preschool classrooms where books and literacy are encouraged, as well as homes where the same thing is happening, learn to appreciate and love books. But we already kind of knew these things, I think. It’s nice that science backs them up.

Look, it’s like a wee Amy! Aw!

I would just like to say, to my kindergarten teacher (I want to say her name was Miss Sears, but it’s been 33 years since I started kindergarten, ZOMG I AM SO OLD) who was CONSTANTLY squelching my tendencies to chatter away to classmates: BOO ON YOU. Science has proven you should have ENCOURAGED my verbosity. INSTEAD, you made me feel EMBARRASSED.

A regular day in kindergarten would go thusly:

I would chatter away to one of the kids at my long table at a time I was not supposed to chatter away. I WAS SO EXCITED ABOUT LIFE AND BEING AROUND PEOPLE.

My name would be put in a punishment box on the blackboard. I would be very embarrassed. I would attempt to stay silent because I hated to be in trouble.

About ten minutes later, I couldn’t control myself anymore, so I’d start talking again. I would get a check after my name. Strike two! Ooh, TWICE as embarrassing. I’d get all red-faced and try VERY VERY hard to be quiet.

Chatter, chatter, chatter. Like a magpie, I was! Like a little baby adorable unable-to-shut-it magpie.

About ten minutes later, what’s this? Wee Amy’s chattering away again. ANOTHER CHECK! Strike three. Three strikes meant you had to sit out during playtime and didn’t get to play in the big crawl-through tunnel, or with the dress-up clothing. UGH WORST.

What was I doing ten minutes later? If you guessed chattering, you’d be right. Listen, I couldn’t control myself. That meant I got my name CIRCLED, and the punishment for that was I had to sleep next to the smelly kid during naptime. That was, apparently, the worst punishment my kindergarten teacher could think of back in the late 70s. Can you even imagine such a thing now? That poor kid. His family didn’t have much money. It wasn’t his fault he smelled weird. He had to have known he was being used as a punishment. That’s really terrible.

Anyway, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson, but I totally never did, and never have. I’m still just as loud and irrepressible. Mostly I think what I learned is that I don’t like being told what to do. Sorry, Miss Sears which may or may not have been your name because I don’t remember it at all because THIRTY-THREE YEARS SIGH.

Me then, me now. Some things don’t change.

Anyway, the second article also tells us that not ONLY does reading and discussing literature with kids from a young age, both in a home and school setting, set them up for future success, but speaking to children using adult vocabulary is also extremely beneficial. I am here to attest to this, not only on a personal level, but on a vicarious level. I will tell you stories! To illustrate! When I was little, my parents did not (still don’t) believe in baby-talk. They thought it was annoying. I don’t know that they knew that there was SCIENCE behind it, but they didn’t do it. I was brought up on adult vocabulary from a very young age. I remember when I was young – four, maybe? five? – seeing the word “Arkansas” on a box of my father’s, and telling him, “Ar-kansas? Why is Kansas spelled like this?” and he laughed, but very nicely, and explained that although it had the word “Kansas” in it, and was a state, it had nothing to do with Kansas and was actually pronounced differently. He was always so proud when I figured something out on my own. You don’t do kids any favors when you talk to them all “boo boo wubby bubby” because who the hell’s brain are you helping develop then? They’re not CARTOON characters. They’re CHILDREN. You need to give them every advantage in the whole world. Stop talking to them like they’re Teletubbies.

Your children are not primary-colored nonsense-spouting creatures. Don’t talk to them like they are.

Second, vicariously: I refuse to talk to The Nephew like he’s a baby. Even when he WAS a baby. I mean, I don’t use a total serious grownup VOICE with him, because my grownup voice is low for a lady and can be a little scary for a kiddo, so I try to use a nicer, lighter voice. But I use my real vocabulary. (I leave out the cusses. I’m not a complete dummy.) The Nephew REVELS in big words. The last time I was home, he did something wacky – I don’t remember what it was – and looked at me with his little happy face to see what I thought of that and I said, “Well! Isn’t THAT a confusing development!” and he LAUGHED. He was SO DELIGHTED. “A confusing development!” he said. The kiddo loves grownup words. They just tickle him. I like to imagine that there’s a little of Aunt Amy in there, and that’s what’s driving his complete and total love of language. (His mom also loves to read, so I SUPPOSE I could credit it to her…but it makes me happy to grab onto it for myself. I’m a little greedy, please forgive.)

On a related note, this article says that households where multiple languages are spoken provide children with better emotional development. Again, nice that there’s science, but I’m pretty sure we’ve always known that it benefits kids to learn multiple languages from a young age. I learned MANY words in other languages from a young age. Ready? I will totally share them with you. “Scheiße!” “Danke schön, Fräulein!” “Biergarten!” “Marteau!” “Peligro!” (The first three are, I’m fairly sure, all the German my dad learned while stationed there in the Army (please apologize if any of those are spelled incorrectly), the next is the French word for “hammer” which, for some reason, is the only word my dad remembers his almost-wholly-French-speaking grandfather saying to him. I’m pretty sure my great-grandfather knew more words than the word for “hammer” but that’s all my dad remembers him saying, and the last is a word I remember from Sesame Street.) I’m being sarcastic, of course, about all my foreign-language learning as a kiddo. I knew very little foreign language as a kid. I learned a little in school (Oui, oui! J’ai étudié le français pendant sept ans à l’école!) and I’ve forgotten more French than I learned in all those years of work. But I can still muddle my way through it, if I need to and it’s pretty basic. The Nephew watches a lot of Dora and Ni Hao, Kai-Lan so I think he’s going to be super-prepared to meet the global economy. Even though when he watches Ni Hao, Kai-Lan my dad and brother say, “PROPAGANDA! THE TEEVEE IS TRYING TO TURN HIM INTO A COMMIE!” and The Nephew looks at me with a barely-constrained eye-rolly look and I think, oh, kid, you’re learning that look really early, aren’t you?

TURNING THE NEPHEW INTO A COMMIE! Side note: someone called my answering service the other day and said “ni hao!” so I knew they were Chinese! WINNING FOREIGN LANGUAGES!

By the way, that article says the following: “For example, a native Finnish speaker may be more likely to use English to tell her children that she loves them because it is uncommon to explicitly express emotions in Finnish.” Andreas! Is that a true thing about Finland? Oh, shit. I would never fit in there! I express my emotions ALL THE DAMN TIME. In words, in actions, in type, in LOUD SPEAKING WAYS. Are Finns not overly emotive? Aw! Finns! You should talk more about your emotions. It’s good to get that stuff out. It makes people feel good and makes YOU feel good!

This popped up when I Googled “Finnish.” Andreas, are people wearing such things in your land? Hmm.

This is getting crazy long and I have MORE things to discuss. SO MUCH SCIENCE. And language! Science and language! (I feel sad these articles are light on science. Bad job, Science Daily.)

This article tells us that the language we use can affect our mood. I kind of love that. First: talking about a situation, even if it’s scary or bad, can make you feel better about it. That seems kind of self-explanatory – I think everyone knows that talking about something is better than keeping it all bottled up. I think science has backed that up for a while now. (My problem is, I talk about the silly little shit all the livelong day, but the serious shit, which I suppose is the stuff that I could BENEFIT talking about, I refuse to discuss. Don’t even ask. I won’t do it. I don’t feel it’s anyone’s business but my own. Aren’t most people like that, though? We all have some serious shit we aren’t comfortable blabbing about, even us chatty-chat bloggers. Or do you all talk about every single thing in your lives? I’m honestly curious.)

The article also says if you want to be less of a gloomy Gus, talk about bad things (even if they’re ongoing) in the past tense, and good things (even if they haven’t happened yet) in the present tense. It’s apparently supposed to do something positive to your brain and make you less grumpy. I think it would make me more grumpy to be less precise with my language. I don’t want to say something’s ended if it’s still ongoing, because that would be wrong, and also a lie. I hate saying things that aren’t true if I have any control over it. It might be sciency but I think it wouldn’t work on me.

And finally, here, we have an article about how scientists are trying to learn animal languages, because they finally realized that if gorillas and parrots can learn English, we should be able to learn animal-languages. I WANT TO LEARN ANIMAL-LANGUAGE. Sometimes I meow at Dumbcat. If I hit just the right tone, he totally responds. I have no idea what I’m saying to him, or if I’m insulting him or what kind of conversation we’re having, but it’s a fun little game we play. YES YES I know I spend a lot of time with my cat. Shush, you. You would too, if your cat was this awesome. As I write this, he has curled up as small and tight as possible, and he is SNORING LIKE A CHAINSAW. All superglued to my leg. He loves unemployment, this cat. Oh, Dumbcat, eventually I need to go back to work, buddy.

Anyway, the article says they’re learning to talk prairie dog. That’s all well and good, but I want to learn to talk Dumbcat. Let me know when you’ve cracked the code of how to talk Dumbcat, science-types. I’ll be pleased to get that news. I think he has a lot to tell me.

These prairie dogs are speaking the language of lurrrrve.

Andreas! Happy sciency news with many tangents. Nothing that will get your blood pressure up or your head exploding. How’d I do? HAVE A LOVELY SUNDAY ANDREAS! And also, don’t die! Ever! Thank you!

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About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

41 responses to “Don’t know much about a science book…don’t know much about the French I took…

  • sj

    Ohohoh! I don’t mind if you say that it was my kids that you totally read a story to THAT THEY HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT NON-STOP! (just don’t use their names online, please – maybe it’s ridiculous and pointless, but I just prefer not to have their names out there where I have zero control over it)

    ANYWAY – yes, they loved the story and the 5y/o has been talking about it to husband and PopPop “DADDY, AMY READ US A STORY AND IT WAS ABOUT BENDEMOLENA AND SHE HAD A POT ON HER HEAD AND COULDN’T HEAR AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANYTHING!” Yes, he yells all the time. I’m pretty sure he gets that from me, I have very little volume control.

    Oh, and they keep asking me if we can make more videos for you, so that might happen this week sometime. <3

    Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    I was just about to tweet that it’s gone 5 o’clock, Greenwich time, and still no daily post from Amy, as is customary. I was going to frown worryingly and everything.

    But then I checked your blog and there it was! Even though no email had been received! Which I found most perplexing. Anyway, all’s well that ends well: here’s the blog post and you’re all alive and well.

    And what a lovely dedication! I’m not ashamed to admit that was quite moved! (And not just because I was watching Sense and Sensibility.) I’d love to promise that I won’t die, but how could I make such a promise when I can’t be sure that I could honour it? It’d be most ungentlemanly of me, for sure! I could however promise that I will take the greatest care as to not have any accidents. I need to drive slower anyway – the roe deer are starting to cross the roads in the mornings now.

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    • lucysfootball

      I have a couple of blogs I’ve stopped getting notifications from, too. It’s annoying because they’re blogs I really like, too. Grumble. Stop being weird, Google Reader.

      Maybe if you unsubscribe and resubscribe from me?

      Yes, be as careful as you can. I need you to stick around for a good long time, please. (Speaking of deer, I saw a dead one right next to my apartment on my way home today. I didn’t know they were this close! And, aw, poor deer!)

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  • Andreas Heinakroon

    Yes, we really do need to read to our kids. Little Baby Girl is always* coming up to me with a book that she wants me to read to her. Granted, it might be Noisy Monsters or Ducks Go Quack but they’re books none the less.

    * If by always I mean sometimes. Which I do.

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    • lucysfootball

      Aw, I love that she brings you books to read to her! That’s awesome! She’s going to be a reader when she grows up, you can tell already!

      The Nephew likes the books that have the funny sounds in them, too. I think he likes the grownups in his life to make wacky noises. They make him giggle. I totally act those out to the extreme. There’s nothing I like more than cracking that kid up.

      Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    We don’t do baby talk with Baby Girl either, but that section made me think of Lisa Simpson trying to teach Maggie to say Dodecahedron!

    But you’re right, of course. And there are some other studies that suggest that it’s not as decremental to use filler noises as previously thought. You know, all those ‘erm’ and ‘uuh’ sounds we use when looking for a word or a phrase. Not damaging at all. Not talking to your kids enough, however – very damaging. Again, we all knew this but it’s always good to get science to back us up.

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    • lucysfootball

      Good. I talk to The Nephew a LOT. And he chatters a lot, too. He’s a talker, that kiddo. You can’t shut him up. I love that about him. I hope he never outgrows it. He tells us all the stories about his day, and makes things up – already! He’s only three! He can make up little stories! He’s a budding blogger, my nephew!

      Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    Finns don’t talk about their feelings much. At least not the men. But on the other hand, the phrase ‘I love you’ in Finnish isn’t exactly poetic: ‘Rakastan sinua’.

    And yes: that’s what we all look like in Finland. Every single one. Actually, he looks a little metrosexual to me?

    Here’s a more typical Finn, I think: the racing driver Mika Häkkinen http://www.peoples.ru/sport/races/hakkinen/hakkinen_2.jpg

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    • lucysfootball

      Hmm. This is interesting. Is it a cultural thing, other countries not talking about their feelings much? I’ve heard from a lot of people that Americans are thought of as way too oversharey about their feelings. I totally am. I admit it. Not even embarrassed.

      That is not what you look like in Finland, silly. That kid looks like an extra from the set of “A Clockwork Orange.”

      I like that typical Finn. RAWR.

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  • Andreas Heinakroon

    You don’t speak cat? Like, making that short growly meow when you want to say “Hello” to Dumbcat? Or slowly closing and opening your eyes to tell him “Relax, nothings wrong”? Or sticking out your index finger so he can push his head against it to say “Welcome back”?

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    • lucysfootball

      I do ALL of those things! I totally speak cat. Even better, I speak Dumbcat, which has its own language. We have the “prrrrreow?” to get someone’s attention and the chirp of excitement and the weird growly bark when we see ghosts. Yes, in this house, we totally see ghosts. Well, Dumbcat does. I don’t, but I don’t want him to feel insane, so I pretend I do, too.

      Like

  • Heather

    I would be sad if Andreas died. He just started following me on Twitter, and I’d hate to lose a follower so soon.

    I speak cat–most frequently the things Andreas has already mentioned above. Except, instead of holding my finger out, we actually rub foreheads. I like to call it “doing the magnet head” because the cat really pushes his forehead to mine like it’s magnetic. I’m a dork, I know. I always do the slow blink-and-nod because it tells my kitties that I love them and that they can trust me. They almost always do it back to me. It’s so cute. I love cat speak. Again, I know I’m a dork. Haha!

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    • lucysfootball

      YES. Andreas is an excellent Twitter peep. He will make your Twitter feed a better place, for sure.

      I didn’t even realize – I guess I do speak cat. Well, at least I speak Dumbcat. Which might be a different language altogether. We totally headbutt. And I meow at him and he meows back. And slow-blink. He also makes wacky chirps and operatic song-noises, but I think that’s because he’s mentally ill.

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      • Heather

        You know what? You might be right about the mentally-I’ll noises Dumbcat makes. We have to cats, and one of them (Fester) had a bad life before we adopted him and he’s a little challenged, too. He has pretty bad anxiety issues (especially separation anxiety, which it sounds like Dumbcat also has), and Fester makes ALL THE NOISES. We swear he is talking and probably thinks we understand him. He’s very chatty. He makes more unique noises than I’ve ever heard any cat make. I love it.

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        • Heather

          Excuse the typos. I’m sure you’re very used to them by now, but they irritate me. Hahaha!

          Like

        • lucysfootball

          I blame a lot of Dumbcat’s issues on the bad time he had before I got him. Someone dumped him outside the Humane Society where I used to work, and he was a stray for who-knows how long out there, and I don’t know what he was eating or how he survived because he isn’t crafty or a hunter. And he was injured, too. Poor guy. He’s so a housecat. I can’t believe someone wouldn’t have wanted him. He makes every day better for me. When I caught him (we put out livetraps to catch the strays people kept dumping outside the shelter) and I got him out of the trap, he just snuggled into me like “FINALLY. A NICE HUMAN!” So I’m pretty sure all of his weird separation anxiety and running around like a looney and making odd noises and knocking over lamps has something to do with that. Or, he’s just a little dumb. But SO SWEET! :)

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  • Alison

    I’m a teacher (high school, not kindergarten, but still, I have some experience with younger kids, including my own) and I feel so bad for wee Amy. You couldn’t help chattering–some of us (ahem) CANNOT be silent for long, especially at that age! And kids NEED to run around at recess to expend their energy. As far as using another child in the class as punishment–don’t even get me started.

    I mean, I know it’s frustrating when a kid in your class never shuts up (my 6 y.o. son is in this phase). But teachers need to find ways to WORK with those kids, not just go straight to punishing a FIVE YEAR OLD.

    Sorry. I got a little worked up there. Anyway, it’s nice to hear that science backs up things we knew were good, like using adult vocabulary and reading to kids!

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I have ALWAYS been chattery. It’s a curse. I know it would be frustrating for a teacher (of course I didn’t, as a kid, but I get that now) but it wasn’t handled very well. That teacher wasn’t the best thing. She didn’t seem to want to be there much.

      I got my name on the board a lot. I got in a surprisingly large amount of trouble throughout my school years for someone who did so well grades-wise. I was in the principal’s office a lot. I was not good at piping down when told to. Or, when an authority figure did something stupid, I’d call them out on it. And get sent to the office. Yep. Mouthy. All my LIFE, mouthy. Then they were like, “SHIT, the mouthy broad’s VALEDICTORIAN? Crap crap crap.” and they all had to pretend to love me. Heh.

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      • Alison

        Heh. I bet they were worried what you would say in your speech.

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        • lucysfootball

          I said some awesomely inappropriate things in my speech. The best one, that I remember, was that give it ten years, and you probably weren’t even going to be friends with the people you were sitting next to anymore. I was terribly bullied so I wanted to dig at them a little. They were all “whaa? NO! BFFs FOREVER!” and lo and behold, ten years later, I hear at the class reunion most of them were no more than acquaintances. Ha. Gotcha, chumps.

          Like

  • Charleen

    1) I am TOTALLY encouraging reading to my eventual kids. Instead of going to DQ for an ice cream cone as a treat after doctor visits or . . . I don’t know, whatever types of things kids usually get treats after, we are going to the bookstore and they will get to pick out a BRAND NEW BOOK (*cough* from the bargain bin *cough*). That’s pretty much the only parenting decision I’ve made so far.

    2) My college choir director had a toddler-aged son during the time I was there, and he believed in the “no baby talk” thing as well. He told us a story one time about how his son wanted dessert before dinner, or something, and he told him, “Son, you must learn to appreciate the delight in delayed gratification” (or something like that) and the kid’s response was, “Dad, that’s no fun!” Still not sure the kid actually understood what he said, but at least he knew he was hearing a really fancy “no.”

    3) I half really want and half would be really afraid to learn how to communicate with my cat.

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    • lucysfootball

      My mom always used to do that! If I was well-behaved for something – shopping trip, doctor’s visit – I got a present. And a lot of times, it was a book! (Or Colorforms. I was OBSESSED with Colorforms. Do you remember those? You could stick these shiny plastic things onto a shiny plastic board and create scenarios? I LOVED THOSE THINGS. Wonder if they still make those? Probably not. They’re probably a choking hazard.)

      My friend had a “dancing with cats” book that was the BEST. It was this kooky woman who took all these photos of herself dancing with her cat, doing all these cat-like poses. We laughed and laughed. That’s LIKE communicating with your cat. Only WEIRDER.

      Like

  • Samantha

    I loved this. I kind of want to smack your teacher for those “punishments”. I mean I understand how frustrating a kid who won’t quit talking is, but when they’re not “hurting” anything, it doesn’t make sense to go to quite those lengths. I don’t know, but I’m not planning on going into teaching anytime soon, and I was always the quiet kid. I think I got shushed in class once, thought “OMG!” and thought the world was ending lol :)

    It’s funny, I think my parents read to me when I was very little, but they eventually stopped because I wanted to read them on my own (by the time I was 5 or 6.) I actually don’t remember them reading to me, but I know they did. There came a book and writing-loving kid from two parents who don’t like to do either. It’s a funny thing. :)

    Anyway, I love this post to bits.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I think back when I was in school, it was more “break the kids to the rules” than “let the kids learn at their own pace and style,” unfortunately. Oh, well. I still won. I beat the whole system! I was the VALEDICTORIAN! Which has gotten me…NOWHERE, baby!

      My parents were sad when I learned to read on my own and didn’t want them to read to me anymore. Which was young. Probably 5-ish as well.

      Thank you! Glad you liked it!

      Like

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