Emily and Phoebe

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Phoebe is playing with Emily on the floor when suddenly she slips and bangs her head. Unusually for her, she begins to make a huge fuss about it, which is surprising, because it's only a little knock, and after all, she's suffered worse. When she broke her arm last year she didn't complain at all - in fact she was the one comforting us. The last thing she said before I took her to hospital were "Don't cry, Mummy, it doesn't hurt." Nor did she cry when she was stung by a bee. Her explanation was that the bee was trying to kiss her, and that that wasn't something to cry about. But this time she is really howling for some reason, so I offer to kiss it better. Red-eyed, she profers her forehead. I give it a peck, and as if by magic, she instantly brightens, launching into Phoebebabble: "ImgladtheresnobloodbecauseiftherewasbloodIwouldhaveclosedmyeyes." She theatrically covers her eyes with her hands and pokes out her tongue: "Urgghhh!" And then: "Thank you, Daddy, now I'm foine."
I'm sorry? Foine? What's that? Where did that come from? Am I raising a mini yokel? And more worryingly, is that the way I talk? I'm the only person the kids hear speaking English on a daily basis, so I have to wonder if this rural burr is coming from me. Do I in fact talk Mummerset? And while we're on the subject of accents... On the one hand we have Phoebe unconsciously (one assumes) imitating Joe Grundy, while on the other, Emily is consciously experimenting with how she speaks. Her favourite film at the moment is My Fair Lady, which she keeps rewatching, like some junior Henry Higgins, trying to pin down Eliza's accent. The result is that we can be in the middle of a perfectly normal conversation when she'll suddenly attempt some strangulated Audrey Hepburn Cockney (deriving not from London's East End, of course, but the strange and far-off country of Dickvandykeland, which is populated entirely by chimney sweeps and flower sellers).

And another thing. It's far from easy to keep a straight face when her response to being told off is: "Oim a good gurl, Oi am!"


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