New joys and challenges in our multilingual family – 100% fiction but oh, so true!
How do full-time working mothers do it!? As much as I enjoy being back to work and using the academic side of my brain again, I have also realised that taking on a part-time job affects my life not only with regards to how much time I have for doing other things, but also how much energy is left in me at the end of the day! I can’t say that teaching a language course is exhausting – I actually found it fairly easy to get back into teacher mode, and my students are a really lovely bunch. However, I have noticed that I am drawn to the shorter bedtime stories and have even fallen asleep during my favourite TV program! I have to find a way to make this work, both D and S need their story time in the evenings…
Have we done the wrong thing when we have put D into nursery in the local language? Does it affect how she develops with all her three languages? Will she cope with learning them all at the same time? I had a chat with one of the other mothers when I picked up D from nursery today. She has a son the same age as D and asked whether D was shy of nature since she does not seem to speak as much as others. She went on to say, “of course, it must be a confusing for your daughter to have all those languages to juggle” (we had met during a parents’ evening, so she knew about our family languages). I know D is not confused – I have read enough articles about how children can cope with several languages – but it still put a niggle of a doubt into my mind. Maybe it is a bit too much for her after all – starting nursery, me going to work, two languages at home and a third at nursery… But she is only two and a half and she understands all her languages well! Why do people comment on others’ kids’ development? And why, oh why do I pay attention to an opinion from someone who knows very little, if anything, about bilingual children?
I talked to my parents on Skype and used the opportunity to vent, well, express my concerns about how I am slipping in my fairy tale reading duties. “We can do it,” my mum said, “just set up the computer in their room and we’ll take care of the rest!” Why didn’t I think about this myself? As my parents will be at home most weekday evenings at the time when it is sleeping time for D and S, they will call in and do the reading. The kids love the idea – they are really looking forward listening to grandma read in her sweet little voice and grandpa make the funniest of sound effects. We will start our new reading routine next week – over the weekend my parents will visit the local library to stock up on reading material. And I will perhaps be able to relax and have a conversation with the hubby in the evenings before I fall asleep myself. This is a big WIN for everyone!
Helping S with the homework is a bit tricky sometimes. I have never talked anything other than my language with him and now he comes home with tasks where I can’t purely stick to our language. Since his daddy also wants to use his own language with him we are left in a situation where one of us has to at least temporarily switch to the local language when we help S along. He is ever so good though, I am constantly amazed at how well he is progressing even with his writing. I must start teaching him to write in my language as well! When will I have the time for it all?