I have always felt that there are a number of key skills that children should really be able to master much quicker than they actually do. You know, like walking. And self-feeding. I would like to say cooking dinner as well, but I am not unreasonable so I won’t. After all, I am quite a patient person. Well, let me qualify that a little. I used to be quite a patient person, before nearly five years of sleep deprivation wore my fuse down to a frayed, charred stump. So perhaps I am not quite as patient as I once was (is that the dulcet tones of the understatement klaxon that I can hear?). But I have to admit it: I am now very bored of waiting for B to get to grips with language.
I mean, I am not expecting a fluent soliloquy on the relative merits of building a Lego tower against knocking down a Lego tower, as he chews on his Weetabix of a morning. But even one or two more words in his vocabulary would be nice. The sum total at the moment? Two. Well, more like one and a half, really. There is: “uh-oh”, which to be fair, is barely a word, more a coincidence of vowel sounds. B says it at the drop of a hat. Actually, he says it at the drop of anything, and what makes it even more bloody annoying is that he drops things purposefully just so that he can say it. Toast flops to the floor: “uh-oh”. His water beaker bounces off the floorboards: “uh-oh”. The plastic kettle is pushed from the play kitchen surface: “uh oh”. My will to live slithers to the ground: “uh-oh”.
The other word he has mastered is ‘dad-dee” and he repeats this with even more frequency than ‘uh-oh’. Over and over, in answer to any and every question that he gets asked.
“Are you hungry?” “Dad-dee.”
“Shall we go in the garden?” “Dad-dee.”
And although this can work in my favour: “Who do you want to change your nappy?” “Dad-dee”, the merits of his single word response can get a little wearing. Eventually, I decide that he really should be able to grasp the complete set of parental titles and it is about time I get a little look in on the oral action.
We are sitting at the table after lunch. “Mummy,” I say, pointing at myself.
B stares back at me, stony faced. “Dad-dee.”
“Mummy,” I repeat, smiling and pointing.
“Dad-dee,” he replies.
“Mum-me,” I say once more, annunciating the hell out of it. Which is not easy, given that my teeth are involuntarily starting to grind together.
“Dad-dee,” he replies once more.
“Mmuumm-mmeee,” I say slowly and loudly, just in case he is a bit thick and needs it really spelt out.
“Daaad-deeeee,” he says, slowly and loudly, just in case I am a bit thick and didn’t hear him the previous four times.
Okay. This is not working. Time for a different approach. Let’s go back to basics. “Muh-muh-muh-muh-muh,” I say, sure that a phonetic approach will do the trick.
B throws his spoon at me and as I wipe a splash of yogurt from my eyelid I decide that B has decided that today’s lesson is well and truly over.