Monday, October 29, 2012

Bilingual with a Poop Cherry on Top

I was always told that the trick to attracting readers is to publish regularly.
Well, I think there might be another trick, because it's been nearly 2 months (yikes!!) since I last posted, and I can't believe the traffic to my blog, in comparison.

So exciting!
And very interesting indeed...I haven't done my 'homework', to see what the real deal might be, but in the meantime, if anyone has any input, please share. I'd love to hear!

As deeply entrenched in 'doing' as I am right now (I'm in the middle of this very exciting project of wiping off plastic tubs from our backyard and returning them to our finally dry and mold-free basement!), I can't miss this opportunity to jot down a few tidbits from the past hour 'round here.

Si-Si (rhymes with Kai-Kai...) came over from next door--our sweet little next-door neighbor boy, 10 days Kaya's elder. Every time they play together, I end up asking myself, "What the hell? Why am I not making more of an effort to create play dates?! (And why is so crazy hard to make them happen!?)" They are SO cute together, especially as they get older and into that age where they can actually play together--without guidance or too much supervision, either!

As you may recall (or just know because you're an avid reader with an amazing memory, or someone super important in our lives!), Si-Si is a passive German bilingual--meaning that he can understand German perfectly (for a near 4 year old), but doesn't speak it. Today, while he was playing in Kaya's room with her extendo-hand, I explored this a little with him. "I can't speak German," he said to us, in response to what we'd been discussing. "Echt? Gar kein Wort? Ich dachte, du konntest doch ein bisschen?" [Really, not a word? I thought you could speak a little.]
"No," he said, quite confident and matter of fact.
"Und wie ist es mit deinen Bruedern? Sie koennen schon ein bisschen, oder? " [And what about your brothers. They can speak a bit, right?]
"No. They can't." he declared again, simply. 

Well, regardless of the reality of their abilities (I've actually heard his older brothers speaking German, and perhaps Si, too...), the point that I'm wanting to make is that Si can understand Kaya and I when I'm speaking German, which means that I get to speak German to him, too. Very exciting, on both counts, in the world of play dates as a bilingual mama.

When he first walked through the door this afternoon, Kaya wasn't sure which language to speak to him. When I told her that he could understand German, and that she could ask him what he wanted to do, she shyly asked him in German, "Was willst du machen?" [What do you want to do?] She had this confused look on her face as she tried to work through his English response. She looked at me a few times for guidance, and tried once more with another question posed to him in German--to which he, once again, responded in English. She noticed that I was speaking German with him, and asked me after a bit, "Warum sprichst du mit ihm Deutsch, wenn er mit dir auf Englisch spricht?" [Why are you speaking with him in German when he is talking to you in German?] Clearly, the fact that this was her long time habit before age 2 1/2 is not part of her working memory. "Er kann mich verstehen, und es ist gut fuer seinen Deutsch, und fuer deinen. Und ich mag das. So, ich werde mit ihm auf Deutsch sprechen." [He can understand me, and it's good for his German, and for yours, too. And I like it. So, I'll speak to him in German.]

She clearly had a different opinion--totally normal under the circumstances where the community language is different than the minority language (esp. when the other kid leads with the community language)--and from then on, chose to speak English with him (perhaps, in part, because he told me that he couldn't understand her in German), and the fun just escalated from there. At one point, perhaps the highlight of the hour, Kaya comes to me in the kitchen, telling me, "Er ist lustig! Er sagt A-a und Furz...!" [He's funny! He says poop and fart...!] "Ja," I told her. "Er hat aeltere Brueder, und..." [He has older brothers and...] At which point, I hear his voice from back in the bedroom, making sure I was clear on where he learned his terms: "No. I didn't learn it from my brothers." "Oh, OK," I replied, quite curious now. "Hast du das von deinem Kuse, Ro, gelernt?" [Oh, OK. Did you learn that from your cousin, Ro?] "No." he said, with no apparent intention to share his secret source.

Looking at Kaya, all I could do was smile, regardless of her soon-to-be obsession with the word 'fart'.
As with the screen time, I'll take the community influence if it means a was rekindling her friendship with the little guy next door! (she's bound to get a potty mouth soon enough...may as well come with a friendship cherry!)

They are coming back to our house as I speak...time to gather more quotes...thanks for sharing!