Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bilingual Snapshot @ 27 Months

Don't tell anyone, but I'm secretly wishing for raindrops to fall right now so I can feel "justified" for being inside in front of my computer. I have the whole afternoon to myself, with Kaya at my in-laws', and I've been wanting to get my garden going for weeks. Thus, I feel a bit silly here. I love writing so much that it ends up feeling like dessert, something I am supposed to save until all my work is done.

Here's to eating brownies for breakfast.

As I was talking with my sister on the phone this morning, she overheard Kaya saying, "Kaya put dat da-ow." [Kaya put that there.] Her response reminded me that I haven't really written much lately about Kaya's basic language progress, especially since a few weeks ago when she started speaking in full sentences, narrating nearly every move she makes. So, I'll dedicate this post to a snapshot of stories, and move on to my bigger life quandaries after...

Kaya can often be heard saying...

Dis goes dare. (this goes there)
Kaya do dat.
Kaya put dat dare. (that there)
Kaya read dat again.

Kaya wa'a read a book. (wanna)
Kaya wanna snuggle, Mama.

Kaya's hungy.
Kaya wan wader. (want water)
Kaya go dare.

Baby need a new diaper.
Baby wa'a snuggle, Mommy.
Two minutes.
See, Mommy.
Kaya wanna get up.
Kaya's awayke.
Kaya's done.
Kaya wa'a pay. (wants to play)
Kaya make a monster car.
Kaya make a snake.
One, two, five (early April)
One, two, swee, five (mid-April)
One, two, five, six, eight...(now: starts with 1, 2 then jumps all over between 3 and 8)
ah, bay, tsay, day, eh, eff, geh...(singing German alphabet beginning, abcdefg)
Aweinah [alone = alleine]
Kaya wan...Kaya wan...Kaya wan a go to the store (repeating the first two words of longer sentences...last few weeks)

Mostly English
You may notice a few things. First of all, nearly all the statements I shared are in English. Primarily because Kaya has been speaking mostly English lately, with both of us. (It's raining...justification accomplished) When I say mostly, my best estimate is 80-90%. Granted, we've already 'discussed', in other posts, my tendency to be subjective about this...but I have to say, despite my tendency towards emotion, I think I'm relatively...never mind. I'm still biased. It's possible that she's speaking less English than that with me, maybe 70%...but I can say with confidence that she's speaking far more English, with both of us, than she is German. Like I said above, I'll save my angsty-emotions for another post, and do my best to share 'just the facts, m'am', as skewed as they often are coming from mama.

From Mama to Mommy
The other thing you may have noticed is the "Mommy" at the end of her sentences. I'm not sure where she learned this term, but she's been calling me this like that, at the end of many of her sentences, for a few weeks. She still uses the term, 'mama', at times, but Mommy is winning out over time. As much as I prefer the former, who can't love a two-year old narrating her actions with a sweet little "Mahhmee" stuck on the end?!

So, now for a few language snapshots from the past month:

That means...
On our way home from the store, on April 7, my conversation with Kaya sounded somewhat like this:

Kaya: Kaya will zu Hause. [Kaya wants to go home. (grammatically:Kaya wants at home)]
Mama: Ja? Willst du da essen? [Yeah? Do you want to eat?]
Kaya: Ja. [Yeah]
Mama: Willst du da Obst und Birne essen? [Do you want to eat fruit and pears?]
Kaya: Ja. [yeah]
Mama: Willst du sie auf dem Haus essen? [Do you want to eat on top of the house?]
Kaya: In dem Haus...zu Hause means da house. [In the home means 'the house']

Kaya doesn't usually interpret for us, telling what things are in the other language. And when we ask her about words in the other language, we do it with "What does Mama/Dada say for ____?" So, I'm not sure where she got this, but I thought this was pretty significant (of what, I'm not sure!), despite the inaccuracy of the statement (zu Hause means 'at home')...

Kaya's Church
Later that day, as we were driving through downtown, we drove past the Unitarian church. I didn't really think much of it until we were a few blocks away and Kaya proclaims, "Kaya's Kirche!" [Kaya's church] She continued to tell me that it is "Mama's Kirche und Dada's Kirche," too. I guess if I have any remaining issues about going to church, I better get over them real quick, now that our kid is proclaiming ownership...

Fire Truck
That evening, Geoff and Kaya were reading First Thousand Words in German. When I say read, what I really mean is this: Geoff asks Kaya where something is, and she delights in finding it, either in the margin or in the middle picture. It's symbiosis at it's best, with Kaya highly entertained, and Geoff with a great opportunity to expand his German vocabulary and pronunciation. So, this particular evening, as Geoff and Kaya were looking at Die Strasse [the street], Geoff pointed to a fire engine and asked, "What does Mama call this?" Kaya didn't respond. After waiting a bit, Geoff looked at the German and asked,"Feuerwehr?" [fire department?]
"Feuerwehrwagen," [fire truck] she replied, quickly.
She knows her trucks, fire and all, and even chooses trucks over bunnies, as evidenced at the Newberg Easter event. Instead of going to look at the guinea pigs and other fluffy friends, Kaya wanted to sit on the bumper of the truck, and ring the bell when her turn came along. I've only heard stories of this event, actually, and am eager to see the photo when it comes my way!

After I'd gotten her dressed one morning, early in April, Kaya is standing in the middle of the living room. She looks at me and says, definitively, "Kaya's kyooot." (cute) A few mornings later, getting her dressed in her crib, I heard it again. Nana would certainly be proud of this one!

That same day, as we were sitting in the car, she says to me, "Kaya's doin' good, Kaya's doin' good." She follows her self-assessment up with, "Kaya got slime on her finger."

Zum Cabin
On the weekend of the 13th, we went to our cabin for the first time since Kaya could walk alone. We were very excited, not only to have a walking toddler in the woods, but to share our love of the cabin with the biggest love of our lives. As soon as I told Kaya about our upcoming adventure, she couldn't stop talking about it, and had we not taken a side trip up to Jamie's farm, it's all I would have heard about all day: Kaya go to cabin. Kaya wanna go to cabin. Kaya will zum Cabin gehen. [Kaya wants to go to the cabin]. On the drive out there, she continued to talk about it, making sure we knew who all was going: Kaya go to cabin. Dada go to cabin. Mama go to cabin...Kaya geht zum Cabin. [Kaya goes to the cabin]. Kua geht zum Cabin [Kahlua goes to the cabin].

An Adverb in Context
While were at the cabin, Geoff was very impressed one morning as Kaya busted out the word "though". Early in the morning, while they were letting me sleep, Geoff said to Kaya, "Let's go get your shoes on." Looking up from her book, Kaya responded, "Kaya's reading a book, though." I haven't been doing my 'research' on where our 27-month old should be (as much as I know there are no shoulds), but I, too, was impressed by this grammatical accomplishment!

Kisses for Kaya
A couple weeks ago, on April 17th, I was home alone with Kaya for the weekend. On one hand, I was a bit concerned at the daunting task of 24hr single parenting for 3 days straight (all hail single parents out there!!). On the other hand, however, I was excited at the prospect of Kaya speaking so much German because she'd only have ME and my German at her disposal (assuming I lock us in a vacuum!). Friday rolled by, and alas, mostly English slipped from her tongue. Saturday morning, more as well. By Saturday evening, I was doing all I could to keep myself emotionally afloat ("It means nothing, Tamara, nothing at all that Kaya is speaking mostly English despite the fact that you speak to her all day in German!"). And then, after an entire day, not to mention others during that week, of mostly English, Kaya plays her German card at the perfect moment. She's crying, in her bed, eager for me to rock, to sing, to simply be by her side, when all I want is my evening to escape. After repeated trips to her door, attempting to assuage her from afar, she finally removed her Schnulli from her mouth so I could understand her through tears and sniffles: Kaya will Bussi...[Kaya wants kisses]. And, of course, after that sweet request, I could do nothing else but cover her in kisses.

You and You and You
And last, but perhaps most significant of all, Geoff just told me that Kaya used the word "you" yesterday. Up until then, she'd been speaking in the third person, referring to herself as Kaya, and to us, as Mama, Mommy, Dada, Daddy, Gramma, Granpa, etc. It was bedtime, and Kaya was loading Geoff up all of Kaya's favorite friends: Frida (the baby); RiggidyAnna (the Kaya-created seemingly-German-derivative of Raggedy Ann); little Kaya (Kaya's name for Raggedy Andy); and Max (Mama's one-eyed bear from San Francisco). Alas, there was no more room for Kaya on Daddy's lap. No problem, implies, as she's climbing up on the couch talking to Geoff--"Kaya sit next to you."

There's clearly a lot more that I could 'document'...but as it is, this post grew long, and I'm lucky if you're still here. For now, this will do. If you've got it in you, you can watch this sweet little video entitled How to Fold a Cloth Diaper and Sit on it Just Right.

Enjoy, and as always, thanks for joining us in on our journey!

p.s. Today, as she got home from her grandparents, Kaya walked up two steps by herself, holding on to nothing and no one! She also LOVES cottage cheese, yogurt, and raisins, to name a few!


  1. What a fun list from this smart little girl! You'll be so glad that you're documenting here what she says and why, even if it means finding post-it notes all over the house with inexplicable phrases and then having to remember what it was all about and then type it up. (Or maybe that's just me!)

  2. Thanks, Sarah! I love hearing from you again. It's nice to have the reminder, the validation from someone with older kids and in a similar situation, that this effort is worth it. The voice recorder on my "magic" phone has been so wonderful...has allowed me to avoid the least those with quotes on them! (I'm looking at 6 of them right now in front of me on my computer with other stuff I wanna do!)


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