I've been reading some ideas about building vocabulary in youngsters, since one of Wee One's issues that concerned her doctor is how few words she "has".
Our local United Way has a program called Success by Six, so I was looking through links and found some information by Born Learning on developmental milestones, ways to turn the everyday into teaching examples, and other information. One brochure emphasized the importance of dinnertime interactions on teaching vocabulary to young children. It is the adult-to-adult interactions that can help build the vocabulary the most.
On the evenings that the Wee One and I eat dinner as "just us", it's not silent by any means. I keep up a constant stream of chatter with her while I get our food together, while we get prepared at the table, while we both eat (and she throws most of it on the floor), and while I pick up after. So even if it were just her and I together for dinner most of the time, she would have tons of dinnertime conversation.
But it would only be me interacting with her, and her with me. She wouldn't see an example of a conversation between two adults, or between me and anyone else, unless it were an imaginary friend.
If I had continued teaching at the college where I was, if I had stayed in my apartment, it would have just been me and her. It would have been fine. I know I would have made it work. But dinners would have just been the two of us. I'm sure the occasional friend would have the occasional weekend dinner at some point, but I imagine that would be the exception rather than the rule.
Instead, I moved home. First, I moved Home home (into my parents guest room). Then I moved down the street! The biggest benefit? My parents and I eat dinner together almost every night of the week.
At times it can be a little annoying for me, because I want to keep Wee One on a schedule, and my parents are like the anti-schedulers of the universe (hi mom, love you!). At times it can be a lifesaver, especially when I was broke early this year because of daycare, and then when I took on extra classes and my schedule was crammed. Sometimes we eat at their house (no dishes!) and at times they come down here.
There is alot of talk about how the family dinner hour is disappearing, and there are many published benefits to a family sitting down to dinner together. She would have those benefits no matter where we live, because I'm a firm believer in the Family Meal. But having my parents so close means that she has three adults around her at dinnertime. All interacting with her, and with each other.
And for that I am very grateful.
Mikki Morrissette, in Choosing Single Motherhood, drives the point home multiple times that single parents need to have a support system in place, and Choice Moms need to recruit male role models for their children. I think that is true of any family, but it is especially true for single mothers. It doesn't have to be family. I had already had conversation with some of my male friends about wanting to have men around to be role models for my girl. I had reached out to fellow faculty and asked lots of questions and formed networks. I had close friends that were there in a pinch when I was pregnant, and would be there in a pinch for me once she came. But for me, personally, noone in this world loves me and my wee one like my mom and dad.