Last week, after two years of yearning, we finally made it to the North Umpqua River in Southern Oregon. It was a wonderful trip, despite the severe lack of sunshine--full of giggles, rivers and free camping. The double downpours and thunderstorms only enhanced our trip, making us even happier about our bomber tent and our wonderful pop-top camper!
As much as I could wax on about Rujada Campground and Hills Creek Reservoir and Scaredman Creek, the intention for this entry was to share the impression that hit me on Sunday morning after telling Kaya to eat at the table. My thinking was this--and I told her as such: Setz dich am Tisch hin, damit du deine Haferflocken darauf setzen kannst. Dann bekommst du kein Essen auf deine Jacke. [Sit at the table so you can set your oats on it--then you won't get oatmeal all over your front.] She, however, was really wanting to sit on the bench facing the fire (can ya blame 'er?!), so she resisted my 'advice' and came up with the idea to simply hold her bowl up to her chin. I was so impressed. Granted, it's an idea that many of us would come up with--at least those of us who may feel concern about spilling food down our fronts--but I find myself continually surprised, and impressed, when Kaya does such things as a mere three and half year old. Watching her eat in this way reminded me of the bilingual benefit that I've read about--and similarly witnessed in Kaya before--regarding resourcefulness. Not so impressive on it's own, but combined with the other line-up of things she did on this trip, definitely worth writing home about.
While searching for paper towels in the back of the van, for example, Kaya noticed that the Gorilla Tape was falling out of the cubby. As Geoff went looking for the tape in the right-hand cubby, he couldn't find it, despite his confidence that he had put it back there after using it. After checking the left cubby, however, he found it, and after asking us if we knew how it got there, Kaya told Geoff that she'd moved it because "it was falling out, and it fit better on the other side." Initially, I was thinking this 'incident' might be attributed more to Kaya's tendency to be 'thorough' and 'particular'...but Geoff insisted that there's an air of resourcefulness about the whole thing, too.
While we are camping, as much as we play a lot with Kaya, there are also many moments when she just does her own thing, creating this or that out of who knows what. Sunday morning was no exception. As I was returning to our campsite (beautiful #9 at Rujada!!), I noticed Kaya standing at the picnic table, Baby Stella in front of her on the bench. When I looked more closely, I noticed that Stella was lying on a paper-towel-diaper, with Kaya poised in the diaper-changing position. I love how she creates wipes and diapers out of all sorts of things--whatever she can find in her vicinity, which in this case happened to be paper towels from the back of the van! Later, with those same paper towels, she created a blanket for Stella, wanting to make sure that her beloved baby stays warm while we're in the wilds. She brought her to me, at one point, asking me, "Mama, willst du sie kuscheln?" [Mama, do you want to snuggle her?]
Later in the trip is when I began to wonder: is Kaya so resourceful because she's bilingual, or because Geoff has this innate ability to pull things out of the garbage and re-use them? OK, OK, so maybe I'm not married to an official dumpster diver, but in general, he's quite the resourceful hunk, and this week, he was quite adept at turning other people's trash into our camping treasure! Every time he'd return from the water fountain, he'd bring something back that someone else had deemed useless. The chair, for example...nothing that a little twine couldn't fix! That thing made for great comfort around our fires--and reminded us that we want to bring our own camp chairs next trip. And then there was the raft. Who's to say you can't fashion a Gorilla Tape patch and go sailing on the lake?!
Kaya couldn't wait to get in that boat, and had the biggest smiles when she finally made it in on Hills Creek Reservoir! If the photo were bigger, I'd include the one of her jumping off the dock into the lake, with the sun setting on the hills behind her. It was an epic photo, and surely more an en epic experience for the two of them ("Es war kalt, als ich hineingesprungen habe," [It was cold when I jumped in] Kaya told me a few days later.
A 5-day camping trip wouldn't be the same without doing a little fishing, too. Good thing Geoff found one of those in the garbage can, too! We didn't exactly go fishing in the water, but we did create a little p-cord line and do our best to teach Kaya a few moves. She had as about as much fun with that pole as she did with the broken light-up hula hoop that entertained her for hours in the evenings. Granted, it didn't look like a hula hoop when it finally made it our way, but I think it was even better in pieces! Kaya turned them into wagons, at one point, which were pulling both Kensa and Kahlua (neither of whom were with us on the trip!).
So, who knows. The verdict is still out: is Geoff responsible for all this ingenuity that we get to observe in our daughter, or is it those two languages that are now a big part of her life? Or perhaps, like everything else in life, it's a fine balance of the two...and then some.
Have you observed similar other benefits of bilingualism in Kaya or in your children? I'd love to hear your stories below!! Thanks!