Spider-boy went through a fabulous phase when he was a bit younger where he’d describe himself as a Lah-dan bouy. Brilliant. Our lad owning his ‘hood, proud of his roots and (bus) routes. It went so beautifully with his love of our city, which I share as a Londoner myself who also had an early years London voice (albeit more Sarf as I hailed from Peckham, innit).
This week his hitherto mostly clipped impression of our voices (from which much geography has been lost between them through university and corrective parental measures) took a turn. Not for the better, or the worse, but a turn nonetheless. It was as if someone switched on his accent. Or more accurately switched off his ‘ts’. He now drinks war-a, loves the four-eee one bus, does unmentionables in a po-eee. What’s gained in glorious tribal birthplace associations, is lost in clarity. With his three-year-old lisp some sentences are now not clear.
This prompted much middle class mutterings. Do we allow him to relish in an exaggerated London drawl? Do we correct? Do we ignore? What is right? What is the answer? Is it a-okay for him to sound so different to us? Will he be judged (and which way? by whom?)? It feels almost like he took a conscious decision, and if that is the case is it our job to correct? manipulate? cajole? embrace? ignore?
As is often the case with the sort of ethical dilemmas parenting throws at us, we’re not a hundred percent sure. But certainly wanted to suss out how organic the change had been. Our answer? Mr Thatwoman valiantly started the charge of just repeating back with a ‘t’ in the hope he’ll at least get a bit easier for everyone to understand.
As ever, a few hours in to this endeavour he got the look, from Spider-boy, who narrowed his eyes in suspicion. ‘What has happened to your ‘ts’?’ asked my husband. ‘I lost them under a tube train’ he replied. ‘On my way to work’.