A common comment by friends often refer to Jay’s speaking ability. At 18 months, he was able to communicate with us clearly (for better or worse). Xav (when he feels like it) can also properly express what he wants and doesn’t want – which can consist anything from “I want to open this present now” to “I want strawberry” to “Where’s Daddy, Mummy?”
There’s really no secret formula to the kids learning to speak properly. I just happen to be predisposed to helping them along this journey. No thanks in large part to my grammar nazi other-personality. Which turns up whenever I hear improper usage of English, or poor pronunciation.
First off, I was adamant that my kids address me as “Mummy.” That’s right. “Mah-mee.” Not “Mama” (which was taken by the Grandmother) or other short forms like “Ma” or “Mee.” My youngest nephew, till he turned four, was calling my sister “Neenee” for short. Was he referring to “Mummy”? Undoubtedly. But I sure don’t want Jay or Xav calling ME that. The price? It took the kids till they were about 12 or 13 months before they could call me.
At the risk of sounding severe, it’s really very much like training a dog. It requires a lot of persistence and patience. Each time the kids tried to address me, I will go “MAH-MEE”, and gleefully cheer when they get it closer and closer each time. This happens several times a day.
And I am just talking about one word here.
Now, whenever Jay shares about his day, I will also interject with the right phrase or verb. Now, Jay is so “trained” he automatically corrects himself whenever he says something wrong.
Jay: What we doing after school Mummy?
Me: What ARE we doing after school?
Jay: What are we doing after school, Mummy?
Me: Oh, we’ll be going to have dinner at Parkway.
And so you see? It takes an almost anal mummy to doggedly be at this 24-7.