I have been noticing lately how competitive I feel sometimes regarding the language in which I hope Kaya will learn particular words. That sentence is SO complicated, both grammatically and emotionally--it deserves much explanation.
I have read that multilingual children often have certain words that they will only say in one language or the other during the early stages of learning. Kaya, for example, has learned a number of words in each language, none of which she produces in both languages. She can understand most of the words in both, but produces only in one. 'Dog', for example, is a word she only says in English, though she understands 'Hund' just fine, too. 'Ja' (yes) is always stated in German. And so forth.
I find it strange, in a way, that I find myself hoping that she will acquire more words more quickly in German than in English. Strange because she's my daughter, and I would think that a mother would be happy with ANY language that her child were to acquire (minus the obvious obscenities and such!). This is what I tell myself, anyway, the words that I use to 'beat up' on myself when I feel this way.
The reality is, however, that because I am the only one speaking a minority language to her, I naturally fear the consequence of that minimal exposure. But I think bigger than the fear is an overwhelm that I feel as a result of a mental connection that I make between how "well" she acquires German and how strong our emotional connection will be. I recognize that such thinking patterns make no sense at all, that they are merely projections of my fears and insecurities as a mother, as a child with attachment issues. But regardless of the reason, regardless of the irrationality of it all, it certainly adds a degree or three of complication to this whole bilingual "project".
I have been having more doubts lately that sound a bit like this:
Is my German good enough?
Will I be able to keep this up?
What happens when she's 3 and wants answers to EVERYTHING? Will my German keep up with hers?
I feel that I am sacrificing some of our relationship to follow through with raising her bilingually...how much is too much? And is it worth it to me? Do I have bigger fish to fry and can I deal with all of these challenges with German in the mix??!
Sometimes I think I'm just going to abort mission, especially when I use phrases like 'abort mission'--I know some idioms in German, but not nearly like I do in my native language, of course, esp. as I spend more and more time outside of Germany. I feel sad that I can't 'play' with the language with her in my native language, and have as much fun with the language with her as I might want to at times. This is where the sacrifice comes in, I think. Does it really matter, though, that I only have two ways, on the tip of my tongue, to describe how the squirrel moves across the grass? Is it good enough to look up more words and add words later?
I think so. For now, it's gonna have to be, because I'm stickin' to my plan to stick with my plan until she can talk. Granted, she CAN talk right now...in her one word, single baby-sign, arched-back and whining way (at times!). But I'm stickin' it out until there's solid conversation between us, or at least until it becomes obvious to me that this 16 months of doubt and excitement has been worth it for at least one of us! =)