My eldest son was slower to talk than our daughter, and harder to understand when he did. He stammered, and substituted ‘w’ for a number of high-frequency sounds, including f, s, z and l.
Sod’s law that his own name contains some of these sounds; the number of times that he struggled to make himself understood in response to a well-meaning “What’s your name?” was heartbreaking, the more so when he eventually stopped bothering with trying and would simply answer ‘Nothing.’
I feared that he’d have a hard time at school; kids can be cruel. But, on the contrary, and combined with some Speech and Language Therapy, it’s been fantastic for him – he loves doing show and tell, reads aloud confidently and is now able to make loads of those previously missing sounds.
Although he did find the first day, when they had to go to every classroom in the (admittedly small) school and introduce themselves, excruciating. “Will I have to do that every day Mummy?” he asked, stricken, at hometime.
For the past three afternoons, my kids have been in a drama course, culminating today in a performance of The Gingerbread Man. And there could not have been a more chuffed boy in the world than mine when he was chosen, on the first day, for the main part.
Naturally he looked terrified when he was first on stage today, gazing at me with pleading eyes. And naturally his first line was almost inaudible. But he soon got into his stride, shouting mockingly, “Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread Man” as he scampered up and down the stage.
Proud, moi? I was fit to burst.
I had the idea that I’d take them for a celebratory gingerbread man at the newly opened Gail’s Bakery in Dulwich Village. There were none to be had, but all three of them were very pleased with their hot chocolates and chocolate chunk cookies. Not to mention with themselves.