The process by which a child acquires speech is an amazing one.   Some children learn with ease and others with difficulty, but the speed or otherwise with which they learn does not seem to reflect in any way on their ultimate accomplishment.

Different members of our family through the generations have been slow speakers, yet all of those ‘talk’ for a living now.   Family legend has it that Eugene said nothing for so long that our mother was becoming worried, and that the first thing he said was, I saw a motorbike and sidecar.   (My 7 year old self heard him say that, and couldn’t see why our mother was making such a big thing of it.   I could have said it any day of the week had I known it was a statement of such importance.)    Rory spoke quickly enough but he didn’t pwonounce his Ls or Rs pwopery.    Since clearly it was going to be a problem going through life with a Jonathan Ross impediment when your name contains 3 Rs, I concentrated on this first and we solved that difficulty quite easily..   This still left the deviant L, and I used every encouragement and device I could think of, with no effect whatsoever.   Eventually I lost patience and said I wasn’t going to bother about it any more, he could say it how he liked, but I would give him £1 when he could say, Lionel licked a lemon lollipop.   (He had it by nightfall.)

The beautiful Erin seems to find speech easy.   At three years old she has an extensive vocabulary and makes very few grammatical errors.   You can hear her, if she cannot make herself understood, put the question again in a different form of words.   But even I, doting grandmother though I am (well, mostly) was stopped in my tracks by her observing: “I think we should put our shoes on now, otherwise we will not be ready to go out when Grandpa comes.”

Otherwise?   Good Lord, I thought.  She is already in the habit of giving me an encouraging nod or pat if I say something which strikes her as sensible, and commenting by way of encouragement, Very good, Grandma.   Otherwise, indeed.    I had better pay attention here, OTHERWISE a three year old will shortly be correcting my grammar and pointing out I’ve misplaced the apostrophe.