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Water Coloring in Green, Red, Purple and Blue

Water Coloring in Green, Red, Purple and Blue

Jet enjoys pretending that she doesn’t know any color names. I’ve spent a lot of time teaching her words, including the names of colors, and I’m pretty sure she knows at least red, yellow, blue, green and purple. I’m not sure about the extent of her color knowledge though and I’d really like to hear her give voice to some of them. Jet is well aware of my desires so refusing to share the information bolsters her sense of independence. This week, she asked me to read a book about colors. I’m not a big fan of this book. It uses the same rhyme on every page, which gets tiresome.

“What color are the pigs?” I ask, setting her up to give me the wrong answer.


“Purple? No, not purple. Try again.”


“Is that Orange?” I ask. She glances at me slyly to gauge my reaction. At this point, I’m just playing along, but Jet knows that there is something about this game that raises my emotions. When Jet’s mother was a toddler, I became genuinely worried that she was unable to see color. No matter how hard I worked to teach her, she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) find or match a single color before she was nearly three years old.  In general, children learn colors much later than you might think, so this was not unusual, but I didn’t know that at the time. Jet’s color skills are probably somewhat advanced for her age.  (For additional information see: Why Johnny Can’t Name Colors)

When Jet gives me the wrong answer, some part of me thinks that she knows the color and another wonders if she really doesn’t. I feel compelled to tell her the pigs are pink and we go on to the crabs. The crabs, of course are anything but red.  Eventually, being her straight man begins to wear on me, so it’s time to quit. “I give up,” I tell her. “Grandma’s tired of this game!”

We go into the kitchen to get a snack. I select a blue cup. “No, Grandma, the yellow one,” Jet says.

I look at her sharply. “You don’t want the blue cup?”

“Not blue, yellow Grandma. Yellow cup!”

This takes me back in time to the day Jet’s mama revealed her color vocabulary. “This is peach,” she told me calmly one day. I turned around to see that my daughter was indeed holding a peach crayon. I didn’t even have time to leap for joy before she named aqua and several other less mainstream Crayolas in quick succession.

When Jet’s mama came to pick her up that afternoon she wanted to read the color book again. “No, Grandma’s done reading that book for today. Grandma’s tired of it.” I reminded her.

She turned to her mother with a lovely “please.”

“What color is the frog?”  My daughter asked.