Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bilingual Benefits on a Bike

Wow. I've wondered this same thing in my past, on this very blog: how DO you come back after such a LONG writing hiatus?

In the past, I've asked that question and written a VERY long post including some of the thought processes that had kept me from writing. Some of them are similar to those I've had recently: 'I'm dying to write, but I just can't seem to "fit it in" with all that's going on these days." Or, "I'd love to write about that thing that Kaya said but...what was it? Damn, I shoulda written it down...once again..." And the most common similar internal thread: "It's been so long. Where do I start?" Writing now will just highlight the fact that I've missed out on so many opportunities to share and look back on 'how it was'. That's the one that gets me every time. That damn brain of mine. Can't seem to turn it off sometimes when it would make such a big difference if I could...

So, despite all those similar thoughts that I've had--in the past few months to the past many--I'd have to say that the biggest impetus for my blogging hiatus was Kaya's age and her mama's reaction to it. Basically, I have to admit, as much as I risk looking like one of those 'bad parents', I haven't really been enjoying parenting a three year old. It triggers the hell out of me, and who wants to write when they're all trigger-happy--or rather, trigger-sad or trigger-angry? I know there are some amazing bloggers out there that can do, on the other hand...I tend to seek other forms of solace when I'm in deep need. So yeah, little miss K, bilingual and all, has been quite the "normal" three year old, complete with tantrums and testing. No longer has Mama been so concerned with which language comes out of Kaya's mouth (which, yes, in retrospect, a HUGE relief!), but rather, which words don't come out of mine.

But alas, here I sit, feeling once again, madly in love with our little Kaya. And I swear, I think a good chunk of that feeling has to do with my assumption that her German has improved, and she can now express herself not only better, but cuter in German, as I had been watching herself do in English for months. Granted, I'm still no scientist, but...that's my sense. I absolutely love listening to her speak German these days. And continue to be shocked, at times, and generally wooed by not only the words she uses, the way she uses them, but even more so, the tone of voice, expressions and lip movements that accompany her expressions. Yesterday at the dinner table, for example, Geoff and I both started laughing as she emphasized her "dannnn" [then], in the same way she's been emphasizing it lately in English--lips twisted, eyes scrunched, emphasis on the "da"..., and making it very clear that that's the way it's going to be.

Anyway, it's prime time for blogging, apparently. I've got this whole list of Kaya-stories I'm dying to share: the Octopus on the airplane door; Daddy singing in German; Kaya's backpack idea and the resourcefulness that comes with it...

But don't worry. The hiatus is over. We are back in the saddle, rearin' to go, taking notes like madmen and ready to share. For now, I'll share this photo of Kaya on her "bike" today--after our trip to the co-op, she had had enough of wearing her backpack while riding. As she slows to remove her pack, she hangs one shoulder strap on the right handle-bar, looking up at me wryly to check out my reaction. I smiled, though admittedly wondering how that would turn out, and we carried on towards home. Soon, I noticed a rubbing sound, and mentioned to her that her backpack would get dirty if she kept riding like that. She certainly didn't like that idea, so she quickly stopped to adjust. I was curious. I watched with greater admiration and love as she took her backpack from the one side, turned it around so that both shoulders were facing the front tire, and hung her pack from both bars, where it fit perfectly between her legs as then continued to "skuut" herself along (she's on a pedal-less bike).

What impressed me the most is not only how quickly that idea came to her, but that it came to her faster than any idea came to me. I mean, not that I expect myself, at nearly 38, to be "smarter" or somehow "better" than my daughter, at 3 1/2...but...I mean...yeah. If I recall, one of the benefits of bilingualism is increased resourcefulness. But, just to be sure, I just checked out the article I was thinking of and found that, more specifically, Kaya is clearly benefitting from this whole 'non-native bilingual experiment' in more ways that I realized--specifically in reference to just this bike scene:
  • improved cognitive skills
  • heightened creativity
  • easier time focusing on tasks
  • faster response time (ahh, there it is! The one that has her faster than Mama!)
As many of you know--at least those of you who know me on the street--I don't tend to brag about my kid. I tend to believe that we're all human, and for the most part, we're all privy to the human condition, with some strengths and some weaknesses and generally, following the 'pattern' that's been given to us: human brain.  And yeah, in this one, I guess I'm not so much as bragging about what we've got on our hands, as feeling incredibly happy and joyous and shocked and impressed and wow. It's working. And I can't help but to share with those of you whose passions are in a similar place--or at least those of you who love Kaya almost as much as I do (b/c it's not possibly for anyone to love her as much as I do right now! except maybe you, Nana, wherever you are!)

I've missed you, dear readers, dear blogger friends across the world. I'm so glad to be back. Thanks for the welcome, I can feel it already, before even clicking Publish (hmmm...that might make me sound a bit cocky, huh?!).

Love abounds.