Thursday, February 11, 2010

Babysitting Bilingually

Today is a relative veer from my typical posts...not quite as much detailed language focus, but a landmark day nonetheless!It was the first day of a babysitting trade between my neighbor, Jamie, and I: Simon will come to us (as he did today) every other Thursday morning, and Kaya will go spend time with Simon and his older brothers (Luke and Oli) on alternating Tuesday afternoons. Simon is a mere 12 days older than Kaya--it's GREAT to have a neighbor her age right next door!

So, how, you might wonder, does this relate to bilingual babes?

Well, as you may know, Jamie and her Austrian husband (Ivo) speak German with the kids. Jamie spoke mostly English with the twins when they were younger, but is now speaking more and more German with all of them. Ivo has spoken German with all of them since their births. As one might expect, all of the boys understand German just fine

For me, today was really exciting because it was the FIRST time that I was able to interact with Kaya in German and know that I wasn't excluding anyone around her--especially her little play buddy! I loved being able to speak one language to both kids and know that they were both understanding me. At first I wasn't sure with Simon...but after awhile, it became clear to me that he understood me perfectly well. He was fascinated with all the balls at our place--he found balls that Kaya never even touches--like the soccer ball stuffed partially in the basket, and the tennis ball behind the plant.

It makes me smile to watch them together. Kaya stares at him in fascination, and seems to enjoy his company. So did I, without a doubt. It's important to me to foster a close relationship with him, as the rest of his family means a lot to me, too--even though they live right next door, it's amazing to me how rarely we visit. This opportunity is perfect, though, as it gives all of us the opportunity to grow trust. Today, for example, Simon cried for the first 20 minutes. Only once I turned on some music and sang and danced with him in my arms did he finally start to calm down. But then, throughout the rest of the morning, he'd come to me, open arms, and give me a snuggle. SO sweet. So trusting. I love it, and truly look forward to more of the same!

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