Wednesday, May 03, 2006

multilingualism and other challenges

First off, I have to say I think these shoes ROCK and I've been eyeing them for El Niño for a while now. The next time they go on sale I'll probably have to break down and get them for him. Dutch wrote a post about how much he and Wood hate flames on pretty much anything, and it reminded me that I sometimes like the most unexpected (for me) things. Like these shoes... I wouldn't get them for myself or for Mo. But for a little one who's getting faster and faster on his feet every day, I think they'd be just yummy.

So anyway, Mo's hard work over the past month has paid off and El Niño is now saying the names of six colors. He still sometimes gets the colors mixed up but at least he can say the words bhue, ellow, red, oranj, geen, and puhpl. No, I'm not teaching him the Spanish equivalents. I'll let him get it totally straight in English first, then I'll teach them to him in my language. In the meantime, I'm trying to teach him to count from 1 - 5 in Spanish. I think that's a reasonable compromise. He's also obsessed with letters (especially W and its fraternal twin M; I tell him W is for wow, M is for Mami), so we're working on those as well, what the heck.

I knew going into this "experiment" that it'd be difficult, and that multilingual children have so much more to process that their speech usually lags behind that of their peers. The keys are consistency, persistence, and patience. That doesn't mean I don't get supremely bummed that other people's kids the same age are saying tons of things while mine seems to speak mostly in what sounds to me like a Scandinavian tongue. Sometimes, he doesn't even *try* and just makes earnest facial expressions while blurting out "BLAHLAHLAHLAHLAHLAHLAHLALA!" Thank God for ASL, although even then, we have some issues. The sign for cracker and tree are the same, as far as he's concerned. And since he can't bring himself to say please or thank you in Spanish or English, would it kill him to use the signs???

It's also interesting to see what he picks and chooses in order to communicate, and how he associates. It wasn't until he was 18mo that he *finally* consistently said "mami"; until then both parents were called "daddy". He still won't say his name, even though he's acknowledged it since before he was six months old. He has also never tried to say milk in either language, only ever makes the sign for it. He makes the sign for all sorts of animals we've taught him, and the sounds they make, but he hasn't once tried to say their names. Except for giraffe... because giraffes don't make a sound (at least not any that I could come up with). Same thing with car, he'll make the sign for it and the sound but he doesn't ever try to say the word. See how I'm running my very own linguistics experiment here? I could go on about this but I'm exhausted and need to go to sleep soon.

so my left eye won't stop twitching... anyone got any good suggestions on how to fix that? Other than sleep, because apparently my children are determined to never allow me to have another good night's sleep. Ever.

Our very own Prefontaine (that'd be Hyde) has two meets left in his Track season. He's been steadily improving his times but missed last week's meet because he was sick (we ALL got sick, again. THANKS Kid!). So now we're not sure if that'll set him back for the rest of the season. Hyde is the kind of person who does well in pretty much any sport he participates in, he's a natural talent; he doesn't get that from me. We were hoping that he'd do well because that'd motivate him to also do well in his academics, participate in Cross Country next season (thereby sparing us the discussion about WHY he can't do football that we seem to have every year), and maybe even improve his attitude at home. Really people, the male teenage brain is so inscrutable to me, I can't even begin to explain how I feel on a daily basis. The only thing that comes to mind is living in a war zone, somewhere car bombs and other random explosions happen. You have to keep on living and always in the back of your head there's the knowledge that something awful may happen, any minute. I love my son but sometimes I don't really know WHY I do... am I a masochist? mentally ill? Anyone who thinks the toddler years are difficult, hasn't parented a teenager yet... that's all I'm sayin'.

And it's because of the track meet schedule that I'm probably going to miss a fun night out with other PDX blogging mammas, which is a HUGE bummer. Just slap that big "L" on my forehead now.

speaking of which, I had a glorious Lucy moment yesterday. I was trying to load the dishwasher while paying close attention to El Niño, who was due for a potty run any minute but kept saying no every time I asked. Once I realized it was time, I dashed towards him but the hardware mounted gate between us didn't swing open like I expected it to... I wound up eating it on the floor, tangled up in the gate, watching in horror as my bottom-half-naked toddler peed a gallon and a half onto the carpet. I have a lovely gash across my abdomen to show for it too.

Other than that, potty training is going really well! He even napped on my bed naked the other day, and managed to stay dry for the duration (two hours).


Dutch said...

ah, but BLUE flames don't count.

mama without instructions said...

damn. i was really looking forward to meeting you! we will have to plan something sometime. i find myself thinking about how weird language acquisition all the time. henry is now in a phase where he says tons of his words out of context and wants me to repeat each one but i have no clue what half of them are. maddening for both of us. it seems to evolve every day. and yeah, get some rest for that eye. :)

bitemycookie said...


i am sad you won't make it, but you can tell G that we'll be cheering him on (between mimosas). the color thing is so cool. it sounds like he picked those up fast.

listen. the eye. SLEEP. much sleep. during the day? whist your child is napping on the computer keyboard (wtf? ; )

bummed not to see you the one time i actually leave the house.