Today was a challenge in the language department for sure. By tonight, I was ready to give up the whole German speaking endeavor with Kaya, feeling more overwhelmed by the terms I don't know and the new formulations that sound awkward to my ears. Things like, "slide it out and dump it" simply sounds weird to me, because when did I ever say THAT while I was in Germany?! "Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy..."--didn't find myself saying that on my two years abroad in college, either! And it's terms and phrases like that, that I find the greatest emotional challenge with, because they aren't so easy to just look up in the dictionary or online. All the little words too--ab, auf, an, darueber...
I've been told that my German is very good. I thrive on those occasions when I'm mistaken for a German. Despite that, however, my self-doubt in those moments of new sentence formulation is huge.
But today, actually, that wasn't the biggest challenge for me. It was wondering, fearing in fact, that my awkwardness at times with the language will get in the way of the connection that my daughter and I have. That, and worrying that my speaking a language with my daughter, that my husband is just learning, will create a space too big to fill with foreign language.
I haven't given up yet, though. It was a close one, tonight. Very close. I don't want to. At all. But fear is big. Very big. And it gets the best of me sometimes.
I know what a big gift to Kaya this will be if I can follow through with helping her acquire a second (even third!) language. That keeps me from giving up. That, and ALL of the German books I have for her, the CDs, and the sense of pride I have in this process. That last part, the pride part, is hard for me to admit, esp. here, to people I may not even know, but it's real. It's there. I love German. I love being trilingual. I recognize that it's a true advantage, a true gift, to know more than one language in this country. I want that for her, not necessarily more than anything else, but my desire is HUGE.
With immense support from Geoff, my husband, I decided to keep going with this process until Kaya can talk more. I know how wonderful it felt when it became crystal clear that she understands German--more words than she recognizes in English. I can imagine it will be even more motivating once she's speaking it, too. I can only hope. Cuz this is hard right now. =) Thank goodness for George Saunders, author of Bilingual Children. He's my biggest inspiration. Without a doubt.