Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Clarity at Twenty-two Plus

I'm not sure exactly what happened recently, but suddenly, after about 3 weeks of feeling confused and frustrated, Geoff and I can finally understand more of what Kaya is saying more of the time.

Really scientific, I know.
That's the way I like to measure things around here.

I've been wanting to write about how challenging it's been for us, about how she's been saying all these things that make no sense, putting sounds together that are surely words, but none that we recognize. Naturally, it's left all of us a bit on edge, and made life feel a good bit more challenging.

But, we're in the clear now!
At least until the next phase hits.

She seems to have mastered a bunch of little words, like 'this' and 'that' and 'new' and 'up' and 'it', in both English as well as German. When we're getting ready for bed and she's sitting on my lap in the rocker next to her book shelf, she'll say, "Buch waayzen, Buch waayzen" (Buch lesen = read a book). When I ask her which book she wants to read, she'll point at a book that she has in mind, saying "diese", or "nein, diese," meaning 'this one' or 'that one' or 'no, this one.' Technically, she's missing the S on the end of 'diese', since 'Buch' is officially neuter and should be preceded by 'dieses'...but we'll love her nonetheless, despite her erring ways. (For the record, she actually started changing her ending to an 'n' yesterday, asking for "diesen" instead of "diese")

The other night at dinner, she was eager for the salad dressing, pointing at the one she wanted. Initially, she was giving us our oh-so-favorite "eh...eh...eh"--parents out there surely know the sound. When I asked her in German which dressing she wanted, she quickly replied with the sweetest sounding, clearly enunciated, "diese. Sosse." We love the spaces that she puts between her newly combined words.

Soon thereafter, she'd noticed that her left boot was falling off her foot--her new Thomas the Train rain boots that I scored at Swapnplay. When I asked her if she wanted me to take her boot off, she said "ja", and quickly kicked her other foot out with a "diese auch, Mama" (this one too, Mama).

These little words really help all of us communicate so much better, and leave us smiling when we hear her use them. Last week, as Geoff was getting Kaya ready for bed, she saw him getting her milk out of the fridge. Lately, we've been heating it up so that her hands don't get so cold while she's holding her metal sippy. Kaya apparently likes warm hands, and made sure to tell him to "heat. it. up" before he had the chance to consider otherwise.

A few days ago, after she'd been playing in the bathroom with Daddy during shower time, they ascertained that her pants and socks got wet from the puddles on the floor. Once Geoff got her undressed, she waddled quickly to her room, saying "new panz, new panz" the whole way there.

And as I wrote about a few weeks ago, Kaya continues to be meticulous in her tendency to clean up messes. This morning, she was letting me know that she had yogurt on her arms and hands (as if I wouldn't notice the white coating spread over her entire appendage). After telling me "yogurt, Arm," and "Hand auch", she told me to go get the "Lappen, Mama" (rag) and to wipe "hier" on the table in front of her. She pointed out three different spots that I'd missed, telling me each time, "Hier, auch." (here, too) And I thought I was meticulous! Oops. I just pigeon-holed my child.... When she's not sitting in her seat, she'll usually head to the kitchen cupboard herself to grab a towel as soon as she sees anything that needs a clean-up job. Now, in addition to that awesome tendency, she will pick up the towel that she has used and walk it to where it belongs, saying "towel away" on her journey to the hamper.

One of the most helpful words that she now uses accurately is 'Schnulli', which for those non-German speakers out there, means 'binky' or 'pacifier'. Technically, 'Schnuller' is pacifier, and 'Schnulli' is binky, or passi, or whatever term you choose to call that thing that our babies suck on when life is just too tough to deal with. On the one hand, I'm excited that she has been saying this a lot lately because up until a week ago or so, she would motion to her binky with another (add sarcastic tone here) favorite: the 'lawn-mower sound'. You parents out there may know this one, too: "aeaeaaeaeahhhhhhhhhhh". Not so bad, really, until you turn it up, add most annoying whine-tone that you can muster, as well as a little confusion as to what the communication even means. Try it out loud right now. I dare you. It can be your experiential learning opportunity for the day...

So, because of that lovely tone that we've been hearing for FAR too many months, I get giddy to hear the word pass through her lips. It's also perhaps the cutest sounding word that she's ever created, leaving the N out and replacing the L's with a W for the sweetest sounding, "Schooohhhhwee". I took a video in the car today so you could join in the love, but the car noise, together with her whining, made for a clear absence of that sentiment. I'll have to work on capturing it in a quieter setting.

The bummer here is that as much as I 'know' that I'm supposed to take her Schnulli away in a few months (our doctor told me to take it by age 2), I can tell you that her sweet Schooooohhhwee rendition has me wanting to ward off the Schnulli-fairy as long as I possibly can. I just cringe, however, to see her bottom two teeth out of line with the 2 around it...that must be Schnulli-related, right?!

I feel like there are SO many things happening in her language acquisition process, I have multiple stories a day that I find myself wanting to share. Most of them are like those little anecdotes above...short and unassuming, but cuter than hell. They leave me wishing that I had a video camera in my back pocket at every moment. But there are a few more stories I want to share that might make you smile as they do us.

Last Sunday, while we were at the Wild Animal Park in San Diego, my sister busted out her Kirkland bag o' nuts to share with her family of famished beasts. Nothing like peanuts, almonds, raisins and chocolate to satisfy (I swear, I'm not endorsed by Snickers...though that's an idea...). Kaya was quick to notice our indulgence, "eh'd" for her share, and was successful in getting her Mama to share the love. Naturally, I removed all the M&Ms, eating what I could before my Dad gobbled the rest. I'm not completely opposed to Kaya having chocolate or sugar, but when I can avoid it, I do.

So, this afternoon, as she and I were driving away from Fred Meyer, Kaya held her hand out to me from her car seat and said, "Mama essen" (Mama, eat). When I reached back to grab what was in her hand, I noticed that my daughter was handing me the chocolate that I'd missed when I dished out her portion of the remaining Kirkland snack.

Clearly, our daughter has come to understand the true cocoa power in my world, and recognizes the value in giving Mama ALL the chocolate that she possibly can!

She also knows good entertainment when she sees it. While we were driving from LA to San Diego, she was offered her own personal puppet show by Geoff in the front seat:

After the initial show, Kaya would make it clear that she wanted further entertainment by requesting both "Baby auf," as well as "Baby up" and "Baby dance". Clearly, she wanted to cover all language bases to see that her needs would be met.

Brilliant child, indeed.

They do know that I'm kidding right?
I mean, not that I don't think Kaya is wonderful, or even smart.
I just don't want them to get the impression that I think she's smarter, or more brilliant, than any other kid out there.

Life is so complicated when trying to please others.
It's easier to just worry about what I want.
Now, there's a selfish-sounding statement, for sure...

Thanks for reading, and for joining me in this most recent part of the journey.
Your presence, and your comments as well, mean the world!


  1. What a lovely post. I found your Blog through the Bilingual Blogging Carnival and really enjoyed reading your daughters 'version' of being raised bilingually. Sounds like you are doing a great job.

  2. Fiona, thank you. I'm so glad to know you found my blog through the Carnival. I never got word of it being out...I'll have to do some digging, it seems. I appreciate your interest, and your comment in particular. Your blog is sweet, enjoyable to read, and fun to look at. Look forward to reading it more in the future! Take care!


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