After years of waiting it happened without fanfare. It slipped by and almost went unnoticed, this event we’d been working towards for the last two years.
Up until that point it was an average Friday evening. We had our now customary “Friday treat” of popcorn and hot chocolate, I emptied schoolbags, sighed at the note encouraging more walking to school and contemplated emptying the dishwasher or pretending I hadn’t noticed that it had finished yet.
The kids sparked off each other, fought over the iPad, vied for my attention by each saying “Mam” in turn an average of three times per minute, then complaining if I responded to them out of order. (Confession: two of my children’s voices are so similar I can’t tell them apart unless I see whose lips are moving so knowing whose turn it was to get a reply can prove tricky).
The daddy of the house arrived home, we shared some popcorn with him and gave some the lowdown on our days.
All exhausted in that end-of-week way, we retired to the couch for “bedtime TV” together. The biggest left the room as our favourite pig and her brother explored rockpools on screen. The smaller two giggled, one clambering over me, the other snuggling in close. A moment of calm.
And then, it happened. An innocent question. Peppa and George were having their lunch, I asked Laoise if she knew what they were eating, “spaghetti” she said. I remembered the earlier issues with fairness and asked Cathal the same question. “Spaghetti” came the absentminded reply.
From a child who has never, ever before made an “sp” sound, not at home, not in school, not with speech therapists. For years we’ve eaten “fagetti” and talked about flying rockets in “face”.
Peppa and George giggled. I stopped. I asked him to repeat it. His first “sp” in his five years. All the practising, the concern, the neglected speech therapy home exercises and I nearly didn’t notice this massive step. Maybe he’d said it before, but ten minutes earlier he’d asked to watch “Fiderman” so I reassured myself I hadn’t missed it.
He got it right again. “What about Spiderman?” I asked. The response came crystal clear.
I smiled, and congratulated him. This was a big deal. Then I remembered the other “problem” sounds.
Can you say “school”? Perfect.
“Scoot?” Clear as day, the days of “shooting” to “shool” are behind us.
I’m not sure he’d even realised himself that he could say them properly. He looked as surprised as I did. And delighted. Mostly delighted.
Has he been doing this properly for days and I haven’t noticed, I wondered.
It’s fantastic. It’s brilliant. He’s mastering words that he’s tripped over for years. I’m thrilled for him. He’s growing up. It’s great.
I’m conflicted. I’m delighted that he’ll be more easily understood, I know that it’ll make his life so much easier, but there’s a little piece of me that’s mourning Fiderman today. Fiderman was my small boy’s hero, his little thing that kept him smaller. With that pesky “f” banished I’ve got to accept that this five-year-old is truly a big boy now. He’ll be off to college before I know it.
So long Fiderman, thanks for the memories.