We’ve been out on a few days out this summer holidays and there have been a few highlights; Toby shouting ‘LOOK KING HENRY!!!’ at the actor who was desperately trying to play a sour and dour Henry at the end of his life at Hampton Court. We’ve walked in the rain, eaten (or mostly dripped in some cases) copious amounts of ice cream, had visits from friends and spent a while finding out about our new surroundings as we settled in from the move. I can honestly say though nothing has beaten a visit to Windsor Castle stuffed to the gunwales with tourists from all over the world; beautiful St. George’s Chapel with its ancient graves of Kings and Queens of times past the pomp and ceremony leaked from every stone so it was a little bit embarrassing when Henry proudly pointed to the Union Jack and shouted ‘LOOK MUMMY THE BRITISH SLAG!!!’
Hubbie and I looked in astonishment at him and then both leapt to try to cover his mouth as he virtually bounced on the spot with excitement as he wanted to tell everyone around him ‘LOOK, LOOOOOK it’s the British SLAG!!’ I said ‘Well done Hen (said through very gritted teeth and with a false smile on my face) that’s fab, you’ve spotted the British FLAG! He looked at me as if to say, ‘that’s what I said???’ and then bounced on to find other things that interested him, the ‘soldiers MUMMY!’ with guns! (The household guard)
We’ve been here before with Henry and I know we’re nearly here with Toby. Ollie lulled into a false sense of smugness as although he didn’t talk ’till 2 he, within weeks, spoke in full sentences with a fabulous vocabulary pronounced wonderfully. We did have one slip though as I explained the differences between men and women using the correct terms. I felt his was right, not giving them silly names but when the doorbell rang and I answered the door to my friend Ollie did say ‘You’re a woman because you’ve got a bagina…’ I was embarrassed as part of me wanted to shut the door and run and hide but there was a secret part of me (the teacher side) that wanted to say ‘No, Ollie L has a VAGINA!’ You can see the potential difficulties future conversation with her might have had.
I asked Hubbie to take Henry to Ollie’s riding lesson once. I was pregnant with Toby and tired. He (naively) said yes and took them both. He came back flustered telling me ‘you would not believe what Henry said whilst Ollie was riding!!!!’
I feigned surprise and said as innocently as possible- ‘err, what? Hubbie said that Hen was fine whilst he couldn’t see the horses but when they came into the ménage Henry got all over excited and shouted ‘HOARE’, ‘DADDY –HOARE!!!!!!’ The other parents giggled as they do when a little child shouts what is quite clearly an offensive word a little too overenthusiastically. They smile at the knowledge that they’ve, probably, been there and done that and that they aren’t the ones now trying to calm down an over excited little boy.
Hubbie and I both try to correct our children’s speech when they have problems. We do it the teacher way by putting the word into a sentence and saying it back to them. This, on the whole, has worked but there are those certain sounds that their ears need to tune in to just a little more. For ages we were saying ‘horSSSe’ to Hen but it didn’t really have any effect. I also say the word on their hands so they can feel the sound as well as hear it. I like to think that this helps them a bit but it’s not scientifically tested…
Other friends tell of similar stories, not the normal childhood curiosity stories ‘er Mummy, what are you weeing out of your bottom??’ such stories but the mis-pronounced words and phrases that are the stuff of family legend. My brother, apparently, said ‘nomen’ for snowmen and ‘tra-or’ for tractor –said in a very West Country accent! The best though, I think, is a friend whose son couldn’t say ‘th’ and said ‘f’ instead and couldn’t say the sound ‘a’ (as in apple) but it came out ‘u’ (as in umbrella) so a simple ‘Thank you became a very nearly ‘Fu** you!’
Watching my children learn to speak has been fascinating. From the noun stage (‘Car! DOG! TREE!) to the working out possessional speech (I dog) to the broadening of their vocabularies as they try out new words –everything was ‘beautiful’ according to Ollie for a couple of weeks when he was younger! I’ve watched speech move from the purely functional ‘more mummy’ to inquisitiveness about the world around them – ‘How did Dexter (the dog) actually die??’ and I’ve loved hearing them verbalise their own thoughts and feelings as they make sense of their world and form their own opinions about how life should be –’Why is that man smoking in the car when there is children in it?? That’s really bad for their health Mummy…’ Hubbie and I try to steer our boys to have their own thoughts but to respect the differences in others.
So the next time I am in John Lewis’ toilet with Henry I will anticipate his curiosity of the flickering lights and will know that he may ask about it. He has trouble with the ‘fl’ blended sound (hence ‘slags’) and it won’t phase me when he asks ‘Why is that light slashing Mummy?’ and the women in the next cubicle is heard to snigger a little. We’ll come out of the loos and practice the ‘fl’ sounds ‘ fl, fl, flashing!’ and he’ll say ‘fl, fl, slashing!’ Or the next time Toby hurts his finger and shouts out ‘Mummy!!!! Kiss my minger it huuurrrrts!!!’ (Finger). I know they’ll both get there and that this stage is a fleeting one and we’ll be moving onto the ‘attitude and arguments’ stage as we already have a dipped toe into this one with Ollie.