Betty has been a slower than average talker but while we were on holiday in France during late summer, the French accent/language must have ignited something inside her because she finally began showing an interest in speaking – albeit French words. However once back on British soil she lost her enthusiasm once more and stopped trying to speak.
Just after Betty’s second birthday two months ago, we received an appointment card from the NHS stating that her two-year check-up with the health visitor was the following week. Knowing that they would want to know about her speech development, and not wanting her to be branded a dunce by the health authorities, I went armed with a list of all the words that Betty has ever said, French and English. Tom accused me of adding extra words to the list just to pad it out. I accused Tom of being a neglectful father and not listening to his daughter properly.
The appointment went well and the health visitor told me nothing that I didn’t already know – that Betty was obviously a very bright (I, of course, secretly think genius) child with an ‘intriguing’ multilingual interest (which I think she said just to humour me), and that there were no concerns with her speech development. While we were there she also measured Betty’s height and weight and told me that she was going to be a very tall and slim young lady. With a dead-straight expression I replied: ‘Just like her mother then’. Of course I was joking (I am very short with legs like a traffic warden’s). I was just trying to make the health visitor laugh but she didn’t know how to react and looked highly embarrassed and started speaking quickly and loudly about the bookstart club.
Betty is now repeating absolutely everything we say. It seems though, that being in France really did do something to her because even now she speaks with a distinct French accent (often dropping her ‘H’s’ for words such as house, hands, and hot), and has a real weakness for pain au chocolats.