Sunday, November 18, 2007
Parents the world over tend to get all warm and fuzzy when they think about raising their children bilingually. Especially in America, where knowing a second language is both rare and romanticized. I was like that too: I thought, 'Yeah, if we live in Austria, the kid will speak German and English, and she'll be soooo sophisticated!'
This fantasy died hard. First came the disappointment when, due to Kindergarten, the child-sponge-brain phenomenon, and various other factors, Adinah began to sling German much faster than I did. Disappointment turned to confusion when she began explaining the cultural stuff, like Austria's evil Santa, Krampus.
Adinah's English has lagged behind, partly because I'm the only one that speaks it with her on a regular basis. But lately, I've been disappointed once again, as I've begun to realize that Adinah doesn't speak proper English at all. She speaks like.....me. Just now, she called me over and pointed out a wall hanging which is no longer hanging straight. She said, "This is bugging me."
She's also started turning my own words against me. When we play Uno, I tend to get competitive. I talk trash. With my four year old daughter, yes. But the other day, she held up her hand and announced, "These two cards will beat you."
Yesterday, we were discussing the significant others of various Walt Disney characters, and she challenged me to name Donald Duck's girlfriend. I told her that's Daisy Duck, of course.
She was still thinking about this when I put her to bed a few hours later. "Papa, who told you the name of that duck who is with Donald?"
"A little bird," I said.
A little pause.
I started laughing, then repeated the lie, and Adinah still didn't believe me. So I told her the truth, which is that I've seen all of Donald Duck's videos, and that's how I know who he's going out with.
Adinah got quiet again, then she said, "Daisy Duck Caca."
See, no matter how much of a language gap there is between us, I know that Adinah and I will always be able share a good poopy joke. Or even a bad one.
When she gets a little older--like say, sometime next week--I'll share all of the ones about Uranus, too.