Extended time with the grandchildren
We're just home from an extended period with the grandchildren.
This time has given us a lovely opportunity to observe miniscule changes of behaviour at close quarters and one of the things I love following most of all is the development of their speech and language ability.
The eldest at 4 (and 3/4 as he insists) is now happily able to engage in long, intelligent conversations. Indeed it's a delight to discuss things with him, whether it be stories about natural history and the observation of wildlife, or concepts such as friendship and kindness and love!
The little one on the other hand, at 2 and 10 months is having a fine old time trying out language. Ever since he first learned to speak, he's been modelling himself on those closest to him. In the early days he copied everything his older brother said. But nowadays, he's snatching bits and pieces of speech from whereever he hears them. One of his sayings that amused us most involved turning around the subject to apply to himself when it should apply to other people. In other words, when he's cross with one of us, he'd announce:
I'm not going to be your Granny/Mummy any more. It felt harsh to correct him, so we'd just listen and ask why? ( It was usually because he'd just been told off)
Once on the beach, he shouted at his Dad: 'I'm not your child.' which was a new variation and could have caused alarm amongst other holidaymakers had we not been in France! Luckily no one got the wind up.
One day, again annoyed, he announced he was 'going to go and live with the soldiers.' 'Which soldiers?' His reply was instant: 'the Grand Old Duke of York's' – his new favourite nursery rhyme.
He was quick to adapt. One day when he asked me to do something for him, I told him jokily that I wasn't his slave or servant. Not words I imagine he knew before, but quick as a flash next time he was asked to do something he quipped: 'I'm not your slave!'
Another time I told him he was adorable. 'No I'm not' – he shot back as it became apparent that he thought adorable must mean the same as horrible seeing as they sounded similar!
We've had fun following all of this, and watching them try out more and more French phrases every day. What sponge-like brains they have at this stage – it feels almost criminal that they don't go to school earlier than 5 yet I'd be the last person to wish any extension of their school days on them. Perhaps we should simply be casually teaching them second and third languages before 5 when they're really ready to absorb anything.