Saturday, August 31, 2013

12 months and beyond

David is growing in leaps and bounds. I know that probably sounds cliche as they change so much day-to-day. But he really is transitioning in major ways. One thing is that he is more "teachable" in that we can show him how to do certain things (intentionally or not) and he repeats them. He's waving, "snapping" his fingers, and using certain tools. He takes laundry out of the washing machine and puts it back in. He takes lids off containers and tries to put them back on. He takes his socks off and mimics fastening and unfastening velcro straps. Etc., etc...

Though not walking around freely yet like some of his peers, David is a VERY interactive child. He is always aware if someone new has entered the room and he "yells" at him/her until he gets a greeting. When he is proud of himself, he looks around and makes eye contact with EACH person to make sure everyone is looking and praising. He adores having little "conversations" with people even if it's just a game of peekaboo.

So here's the challenge...David is at an age now where I take him OUT of the stroller when we go on walks.

That might mean more dirty clothes for us, but it ALSO means more social interaction. And as a bilingual parent, I feel a little awkward. In Russia, my language is less dominant. So I feel a little funny speaking it in public. And yet, I don't want David to feel that one of his languages is something to be ashamed of.

The neighbors on our street in Massachusetts this summer had a French-speaking nanny. We could hear her speaking French to them from across the street. Maybe I could create a cool nanny image for myself?

I just get into those situations where it's more necessary to be verbal, and that means speaking Russian. So do I:  A) Speak Russia with the other people and English with David, B) Speak Russian with other people and switch to Russian with David when in public, or C) Just keep a low profile and improvise depending on the situation?

Even the SOUNDS of childhood are different. The "oops," "boing," "whee," "vroom." Those sound different in another language! And they might sound funny to onlookers (but hopefully not obscene).

On a Russian playground, there is a lot of instructing going on. It's constant commentary from the mothers (and grandmothers and even fathers) accompanying their charges. Here is how you go up the ladder, here is how you go down the slide, here is how you share your toys, here is how you brush your clothes off if you fall. It is great for language learning, I'm sure. But to be honest, I also get a little overstimulated being privy to all that information.

I park David near the slide to watch how a little girl goes down. Her mother sees a teaching opportunity and brings her over, saying gently, "There's a BOY. See the BOY? Say HELLO to the boy. Are you being shy? What's the matter? Go on."  The little girl manages a little grin and giggle and David offers a jerky wave in their direction after their backs are already turned and they're walking away. I didn't tell David to say hello to them. I didn't know what language to use.

David will learn the Russian well enough. He's got a Russian father and grandparents. For English language purposes, we may need to find ourselves a playgroup. And he'll learn his second language, too. It's just figuring out the mixed situations that's a little tricky.

I've linked to a few bilingual blogs in my sidebar. I guess I'll take a look and see if any of them address this.

1 comment:

  1. I think you'll need to just be flexible and use instinct. After all, that's what David will eventually need to do. I believe that children are able to discern different languages; and innately figure it out and don't get "confused" as people might presume. I expect that you might want to give him more English practice, though if you spend each summer in the US, perhaps that will happen in that way. Great problem to have!!


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