I took Betty to an activity morning earlier today, where they had a singing and dancing session, lots of unusual toys and instruments, and various things to jump on and climb through.
Betty spent most of the morning chasing the boys (ignoring the girls) and giving them big snotty kisses on the lips. I spent most of the morning being grilled by a scary mother (SM), who I had previously met at Betty’s swimming classes last year. She was asking me how many words Betty can say and whether or not she is putting words together yet. I explained to SM that Betty says ‘Da Da’ quite a lot, and apart from teasing us with the odd one-offs such as ‘tractor, fish, windmill, melon, biscuit, goodbye’ etc, that is about as far as things have got. I told her that I wasn’t worried, and that Betty has her own mind and would speak when she is good and ready and not when we tell her to.
SM went on to tell me that her ‘little prince’ can say almost anything, and in two languages what’s more, and is now putting 3 or 4 words together. She told me that this was almost certainly because she had religiously read books to her child daily ever since he was born, and also that she ‘takes the time’ to talk to him regularly. She then gave me a sympathetic look, shook her head and tutted. I wasn’t sure if she was tutting at me for being a bad mother for not reading or talking to my daughter (which, just for the record, I do, and always have done, ALL THE TIME), or at Betty for not being as advanced as SM’s little multi-lingual genius.
My great aunt regularly asks me whether or not I am actively teaching Betty to talk. And when Betty and I are in her company, she takes matters into her own hands and will spend hours with Betty saying loudly and clearly: ‘This is a BALL BALL BALL. This is a CAT CAT CAT.’ Betty reacts in much the same way as she does with me and Tom, and raises her eyebrows, sighs, and demands to be let into the fridge so that she can play with some tomatoes.
Having desperately tried, but failed, to join in Betty’s game of kicking three balls simultaneously around the room, I noticed that SM was still hot my heels, and was coming at me with a conversation about potty training. I informed her that Betty is not potty-trained, but does enjoy sitting the doorstop on the potty and making a ‘psshhh’ing sound. SM looked disturbed at this, and then told me in great detail about how she had taken a week off work to potty train her 20 month old child. ‘Admittedly it was chaos’ she said, ‘there was poo and wee all over the house for the first 3 days, and then I gave up.’ She told me that she plans to take another week off work in September and try it all again.
There was a scary look in her eyes, and so I left her with her potty thoughts, and went off to join Betty for a hand-clapping session.