I started getting more invested in language in 2014 when I set out to self-learn Spanish. My tool of choice was Duolingo, which featured a variety of exercises and has continued to evolve since then. Seven years later, I’m able to follow basic conversations and understand simple articles, but my speaking skills are practically nonexistent.
The arrival of my daughter D– gave me a chance to see how a child learns language. There’s a common trope that children pick up language faster than adults. Could that be true? Compared to other children I’ve dealt with at her age, D– seemed quite advanced in vocabulary and sentence construction.
Meet my daughter, D–, two-and-a-half years old, 0.9m high, and 12.7kg heavy. Her hair was a little thin, with a touch of golden brown, and is now just starting to grow out into a bob. Typical of her age, her cheeks are round and rosy but the shape of her face is quite similar to mine. Already she has the hallmark double-chin of my side of the family; but she gets her nose from her mother’s side, thankfully.
In my dealings with children, even family, I’ve tried to treat them as their own persons, with their own personalities and quirks, not merely duplicates of their parents. That’s largely been borne out of my experience with my nephew and niece. If it so happens that our personalities gel from the start, well, that’s a bonus. With D–, I seem to have hit the jackpot.
At this point in our lives, many of my contemporaries in middle age are now parents to young adults. Some have even recently become — great gadzooks! — *grandparents.* So I can’t help but look at where I am and wonder that I’ve only recently become a father, and to a two-and-a-half-year-old at that. It just so happens that my daughter is also now just entering the peak of her climbing stage, and I think that maybe I’m too old to be chasing her all around the house.
Looking back at my life path, it seems that it’s all topsy turvy and protracted in all the odd places. I started with a corporate career first, and — to boast a little — it would have been a stellar one if I followed its trajectory, but then cut it short to bum around a few years, maybe write a little, before joining academe and getting a master’s degree in my forties. Discontentment again, and back to corporate, though much less stellar than the first.