Our fictional multilingual family is back from their holidays and are facing the daily routines. What has happened this week?
What a lovely summer we had! First we spent two weeks back at home in my old stomping grounds and then the in-laws came to visit for three weeks. It is amazing how much more confident S is in speaking with my mother and father, and how many new words D learnt! The kids were well and truly spoilt for the whole summer, and it was a bit difficult to get back into our normal routines this month. Both S and D also had plenty of time to spend with their friends, D with the neighbour’s son and S with his new best friend from school. They a both quickly becoming trilingual!
S was so eager to get back to school, that he packed his bag the week before! Well, he is not the only one excited about returning to education … I am, if possible, even higher up over the moon to go back to uni! I accepted the offer of teaching the beginner’s language class, and will start next month. I haven’t been working since S was born, so I would be lying if I wasn’t a bit nervous as well… D will attend nursery, so she will be even more exposed to the majority language. Again, I have to be honest and say that I am not sure how we will be able to keep both my and her daddy’s language going with her.
I am so happy that S has settled in so well in his school and has learnt to express himself in the local language. And today it happened. He came running towards me, bag across his shoulder, dropping (and picking up) his coat as he made his way between all the other kids: then he enthusiastically tells me how he had been selected to be the captain of the class football team. A proud moment for any parent, it should be, shouldn’t it? Yes, but he told me all about it in the local language! It is the first time ever he has talked to me at length in any other language than the one I have been speaking with him since he was born. I was NOT prepared for this happening so soon and I must say that instead of being happy for his achievement and proud that he could explain this in his third language, instead, I was sulking inside.
Was this the start of a slippery slope to him not wanting to speak my language with me anymore? Luckily, I managed not to show this part of my mixed emotions as I picked him up and gave him a big hug! Silly mummy – I thought I knew how to handle a situation like this. To make me feel even more miserable, when daddy came home in the evening, S was able to tell it all in the “right” language to him. Hmmm.
Our usual Sunday Skype talks with both sets of grandparents are going better and better. After having spent time with them over the summer, D has got much more used to speaking with them and is no longer so shy. S was chatting away as he always does when his cousin came to visit grandpa and grandma and wanted to talk to S – they really made a great connection this holiday! What is the first thing S does? Tells his cousin about how he is going to be the captain of the football team, of course… and does this in my, our, his and my language, without hesitation! Guess who was a happy, proud (and slightly elated) mama!