Posts Tagged ‘speech’

The Archbishop of Canterbury

Gabe

As Headboy, Gabe had a prominent role in the end of year assembly. Sat on a stool in front of a lectern, he and the Headgirl introduced each of the classes as they set about performing their decade from the Queen’s reign. He was serious and proficient, without giving the sense of enjoying his role.

His class performed last. By contrast with the song and dance routines of the other classes, his reenacted the coronation. Gabe had kept his role a secret and appeared, to my surprise, dressed with mitre and frock as the Archbishop of Canterbury. He took the oath of office from the Queen and handed her an orb and sceptre.

Robin

I have resigned myself to hearing my children growing up speaking like their classmates, not like me. L has taken a more interventionist approach, targeting in particular the pronunciation of ‘th’. Repeated reinforcement by L eventually paid off as Robin has shed the ‘f’ sounding of ‘th’. Recently, he said that he was the only child in his class who didn’t say ‘th’ as ‘f’.

Eliza

Eliza has started a bead collection. It’s this term’s fad at school, where beads are shown and swapped in the playground. Eliza lays them out in order of preference and wants to know which are L and my favourites, too.

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Historical haircut

Eliza

Eliza has had her hair cut for the first time in over three years. It ends her quest to grow it down to her bottom and came as she gave way to frustration at how tangled it got and the time she had to spend brushing it to keep it tidy. Taken by L to a hairdresser for the occasion, she also seemed to enjoy the attention. It now ends below her shoulders, long enough still for a pony tail.

Robin

When Robin and I spend time together, conversation from his side has a distinctive pattern. Every sentence, every phrase, often repeated, begins with an urgently stated ‘Daddy’. I might hear my name a dozen times in a minute. It’s humbling to be addressed so intensively, as though my being there needs to be articulated over and over.

Gabe

Gabe fitted three days of multi-sports camp, a football match, football training and a cricket match into the first part of his half-term holiday. Buoyed by this organised exercise, he and Robin played competitive, fun-filled football in the garden at home and on our visit to the grandparents. The games were rough, even dirty, but accompanied by lots of laughter and pleasure in their own and each other’s play.

 

The benefits of having an older sister

Sunday afternoon, Robin, Eliza and I headed to a new park. For almost an hour, Robin and Eliza played in the warm September sunshine. Seamlessly, their games evolved from total wipe out to pirate ship to daredevil jumps to potion making to tickle monster as they roved from stepping stones, to climbing frame, to grassy knoll and to tree stumps. The games had imaginative elements that needed to be spoken to come to life, led by Eliza and keenly joined by Robin. With the space, the sun and the goodwill of the occasion, they negotiated each other and each other’s suggestions, keeping the games moving forward, without dissension.

As I watched, and played an occasional part, I saw clearly the socialising inflence of the seven year old sister on the five year old brother – playing active games without the jostling and competing for prominence that characterises young boys’ games.

We left the park to pick up L and Gabe from a shopping chore, but one that made Gabe happy, too, as he had bought himself the new Man City kit.

Do I have to (talk to Daddy)?

With L and the kids away with her parents in Scotland, I get to speak to each of the kids for about five minutes a day on the phone.

Robin

Robin is the most volatile: sometimes telling me he loves me so much and sometimes refusing to speak, even heard saying ” do I have to..”

Gabe

Gabe can be matter-of-fact: it’s no big deal to be speaking to his Dad on the phone. His answers to my questions about what he has been doing are precise and he does nothing to prolong the conversation, drawn back to the game he’s playing or programme he’s watching.

Eliza

Eliza makes the most sincere effort to answer my questions: listing the sequence of activities or places that have featured in her day; enumerating who of Mummy’s family is there; describing what lunch or tea comprised. This can take her an effort that surprises me and sometimes she struggles, but persists in trying to remember or to relate what has happened. She most reliably complains of missing me.

As the phone is passed between the kids, I find it unexpectedly difficult to work out who I’m talking to from the first exchanges. Until Gabe’s voice breaks, the voice tones are similar and with Robin’s improved language their levels of articulacy are converging.

Tooth fairy

Eliza

Eliza lost her first tooth, quickly followed by a second. She placed each tooth under her pillow to exchange it with a currency gift from the Tooth Fairy. The morning after losing her first tooth, Eliza found me in the bathroom. She was holding a pound coin. ‘I have a one….’ she said, not knowing what it was called. What really excited her was that she thought she read her name on the coin where the monarch’s name is engraved.

Gabe

Gabe went to Sale Cricket Club under 9 practice for the first time. There were 9 other boys, mostly bigger and probably a little older than he. The session was run by Rick, who had given Gabe some coaching in the autumn. They began with a game that crossed netball with cricket. Gabe stayed mostly on the margins, but his confidence grew. The second half of the session was a cricket match where each batter faced one ball at a time. Gabe scored some runs and played some nice front-foot shots. In the field, he came close to the catch of the day. He has said he enjoyed the session and can’t wait for next Sunday.

Robin

An enduring peculiarity of Robin’s speech is his fondness for the word ‘take’. It replaces ‘put’, ‘switch’ and other action verbs. So he ‘takes’ his shoes on, lights off and TV on.

Creation myth

Robin

Driving home from his egg-free, swine flu inoculation, Robin chattered to L about where he had come from. At the heart of his story was the explanation that, before he was born, Robin lived in the sea. It was there that he saw L and chose her as his Mummy.

Eliza

Eliza’s make believe games tend to involve animals, baby animals or princesses. Invariably, they unfold in short episodes, rather than have any sustained narrative. Each episode, often only 30 seconds long, is preceded by Eliza asserting “pretend”, followed by a short explanation or order about what is going to happen. “Pretend… pretend… pretend..” punctuates the game.

Gabe

The school has agreed, unwillingly, to move Gabe to the year 4 class. Friday afternoon, after my brief conversation with the head-teacher, his current teacher, Miss B, asked Gabe if he wanted to change classes. Gabe explained to me in the evening that he had said that he didn’t want to – he hadn’t wanted to hurt her feelings.

Mastering language

Gabriel

A conversation reported to me by a friend driving four boys to football practice. A mispronounciation and giggles in the back of the car about hearing ‘gay’. Gabe steps in and explains that gay means two men who live together. His Dad’s best friend is gay. Two women who live together are called.. ‘What are they called?’ Gabe asks the adult in the car. Lesbians, the adult in the car clarifies, the conversation soaring way over the other boys’ heads.

Robin

Shopping with L in Monsoon, Robin saw some sparkly Christmas outfits: ‘Strictly dancing dresses, Mummy.’ Onto Laura Ashley: ‘Old people’s shop Mummy, don’t like it’.

Later that day, L took Robin to the fife concert at Gabe’s school. Robin objected to going and was placated with sweets. Sitting on the front row, when the music started, Robin clamped his hands to his ears. Periodically during the show, he turned to L, hands still in place, to bellow above the music and loud enough for him to hear with his ears covered, ‘Nother sweety, please’.

Eliza

Eliza’s spelling at school is moving beyond the green (phonetically predictable) words to the red. With precision, but not always accuracy, Eliza is applying this knowledge. On a card drawn for L and me, she wrote: To Mummy and Daddy, you are so nighce. Yesterday, she spelled out how she wanted to travel to Gabe’s football: by b-i-g-h-k.