Monday, June 13, 2011

Someday My Kraut will Come...

How do 2 weeks go by without my writing a single word on my blog?! It's amazing to think that there's something that I love to do so much, like write, and it takes me 14 days to get around to making the time to make it happen.

Damn sunshine and love of gardening.
Damn passion for eating organic and visiting the family farm we just "joined".
Damn 2-year-old, sapping all my extra energy with all the English you speak.

Why is blame so much easier than taking responsibility?!

I'm not exactly sure what I want to write about tonight--I just know that it is high time to make it happen: all of a sudden, my readership just grew tenfold--literally. I'm not sure exactly how, but here's my best guess: this British blogger in Glasgow, with a blog called Mummy Do That, recently linked to my blog from hers. As a blogger with more than 150 followers, on topics ranging from knitting to sustainability (not to mention, raising her children in German and English), it's not much of a surprise that I'd get a few hits off of her site. But to go from about 8 readers a day to 100!!--the LAST thing I expected to see when I jumped on my blog tonight. Yikes. I can't believe it. It almost makes me nervous to even open my "mouth" here, writing to so many of you at once...

I better make it good, huh?!

I just think it's amazing how powerfully strong an online community can be...and how incredible it is to be able share them as we do, and declare them as our own communities once we see them that way. Thank you, Mummy, thank you very much!

So, the theme of late has been all of Kaya's English. Not much has changed, really. It continues to roll off of her tongue in the sweetest ways, while the German stays mostly dormant, preparing for its BIG debut. One of these days, I'm sure of it, the curtains will open back up, and the Kraut will come pouring out of her, as if she'd spent all of her waking hours in the land of Lederhosen.

You just wait. It will.

And by the way, for those of you who are concerned that I damned my child above...have no fear. I love the hell out of her, and find myself wishing, on too many an occasion, that I would allow myself to speak the same language that she does so that I could feel that love even MORE than I already do.

A few weekends ago, I almost "gave up" all over again. The mantra was the same as what I wrote on my blog about a month ago: Can I do this? Do I want to? We were having a Block Party, and repainting our intersection compass, and all I wanted to do was continue my conversations with a few people about how I wasn't cut out for this, how I don't like it, and maybe I AM screwing her up with this choice that I'm making. And then, on Monday morning, it hit me: as much as I used to judge women who would blame PMS for everything under the sun, I, too, am just a human who is controlled by my hormones during many a monthly moment. Funny thing is, I felt so liberated as soon as I realized that...and finally, instead of telling myself that I'd remember next month, I actually wrote it down on my calendar next month so I can be ready for the roller coaster that may come barreling down my path.

My guess is that most of my readers are women...and to the rest of you men out there, dedicated to me and my blogging endeavors, thanks for putting up with this little effeminate dance. My intention a few weeks ago was to dedicate an entire post to the topic--so, you lucked out with merely a paragraph.

So, today, as moody as I'm not, I can't avoid the fact that my feelings haven't changed much: I still don't like the fact that I speak a different language than my daughter speaks with me. During the most trying of moments, and even the most endearing ones, it's like being in different worlds, and when I go anywhere near the idea that I might have to "endure" this forever, I instantly want to give up. Thus, when my emotional plate has room to spare, I can easily avoid those 'dangerous' thoughts, and do my best to live in the now, and focus on the connection we do have as opposed to the common language we don't.

Over the past week, I've been trying a myriad of ways to get her to speak German--the way that's been working the best has been to ask her tons of either/or questions. Today, for example, she wanted to read the Opposites book by Boynton. In the past, I've been unwilling to read 'Dada-books', and have steered her towards 'Mama-Buecher' in German. But lately, I've backed off of my stringency, and have taken the opportunity to expand our repertoire (and my creativity). So, as we were reading that Dada-book tonight, our interaction went a lot like this:

Mama: Der Elefant ist schwer. Der Hase ist leicht. Ist der Elefant leicht oder schwer? [The elephant is heavy. The rabbit is light. Is the elephant light or heavy?]
Kaya: schwer.[heavy]
Mama: (pointing to the animals on the page...) Schnell. Langsam. Ist der Hund schnell oder langsam? [Fast. Slow. Is the dog fast or slow?]
Kaya: schnell! [fast!]
Mama: Ist die Schnecke langsam oder schnell. [Is the snail slow or fast?]
Kaya: (pause) langsam. [slow]

It's getting easier for me to think like this while I'm reading her books...esp. the picture books with one or two words per page. But in real life, at the breakfast table for example, it's a lot more challenging (and draining!) to figure out how to word most of my interactions as either/or questions, or as informational questions that she'll answer with words that tend to be buzz words for her in German. And then I find myself even questioning how natural that is, and if I'm doing us a disservice by trying so frickin' hard to get the German to flow. Here's a pretty typical conversation at the breakfast table between us:

Willst du yogurt? [do you want yogurt?]
Ja!! [yeah!]
Was willst du drauf? [What do you want on it?]
Weizenkerne. [wheat germ]
Ok. Was noch? [ok. What else?]
Flax Oel. [Flax oil]
Ok. Noch was? [ok. Anything else?]
Ja. Apfelmuss, und Hefe! [Yeah, apple sauce and brewer's yeast!]
Ok, lecker. [oh yummy] (p.s. I don't really think brewer's yeast is yummy, though she does!)
Willst du auch Cheerios dazu. [Do you want Cheerios with that?]
Ja! [yeah!]

(I know, I can't believe it, either, that my kid chooses to eat wheat germ, brewer's yeast and flax oil on her's a left-over habit from Super Baby Food and I'm lovin' it!!)

There are still a few life situations, like breakfast and riding the bus, where Kaya has a number of German buzz-phrases:

Sie steigen aus. [They're getting off]
Er steigt ein. [He's getting on.]
Wir fahren mit dem Bus. [We're riding the bus.]
Bus fahren. [Riding the bus]

I'm working to create a few more, but admittedly, Kaya has such a super-Dada that most topics have already been played with in English before I can 'get to them' in German. Yesterday, they were making a bouncy house out of play-doh, for example, and they've been having a great time in the backyard playing with the big bouncy ball from Geoff's office. I might have a chance with 'airplane', which she requested to do with me while we were reading from her 'Klara' book...I remember playing airplane with the boys I used to babysit, balancing them on the soles of my feet while they 'flew' above me on their stomachs. Kaya loves it, though definitely lets me know when she's had enough: "Don't do dat, Mama." Maybe I can monopolize the gardening topic, as we've been doing a lot of that together lately...just have to keep her from cutting all of my roses when she has a scissors in her hand!

Maybe it's because it's 12:30am, and I know I have to get up in 7 hours, but I'm dying to think of some of the cute things she's been saying in English and I just can't. She's speaking in complete sentences all of the time, at least in English, and enunciates like them best of 'em. One of her favorite phrases of late: "You canNOT do dat" (fill in 'dat' with whatever activity we happen to be doing that she doesn't like). She's also very willing to tell us, "I don't wike dat," or "I don't want it wike dat!" She has yet to master the letter "L" or "th", and as much as I don't want our daughter to have a speech problem, I wuv it, and hope it won't change anytime soon.

I bet if it weren't so late, I could also come up with a story or two about our farm trip to Junction City on Saturday, followed by our trip to the cabin for the rest of the weekend. But alas, it's time to follow my husband into bed, and prepare myself for a day of toddler tomorrow. So for now, you'll have to settle with a few pictures of the pigs that I fell in love with on the farm. As crass as it sounds, it was pretty cool to have these creatures rubbing their noses on my hand, nibbling my knuckles, reminding me of how much I love ham.


  1. Hallo
    Schöne Grüße aus Deutschland!

    Ja, ich weis dass das komisch klingt… ich rede auf Englisch mit den Mädels und dann fliegen wir nach Deutschland! Aber ein Teil meiner Familie wohnt hier (2 Brüder meiner Mütter sind nach Deutschland umgezogen und leben hier seit 50Jahren), dann kommen wir hier oft, zur letzter Zeit sind wir 3 mal in 3 Jahren gekommen: die Kinder lieben die Urlaubs in Deutschland.
    Freitag haben wir den 70er Geburtstag meiner Tante gefeiert und bei dem Party waren meine Töchtern ganz böse mit mir.
    Als ich fragte “Warum?”
    Haben sie geantwortet “Du hast uns English gelehrt und jetzt???… niemand kann English, wir können kein Deutsch! Wir wollen Deutsch lernen!”
    Und Ich “Na, ja, ok ab September fangen wir mit Deutsch an und nächste Mal dass wir hier kommen Ihr werden auf Deutsch mit Sicherheit etwas reden können “
    “Wir wollen aber JETZT auf deutsch sprechen, nichts das nächstes Mal!”
    Dann (zum Gluck) ist ein Junger zu uns gekommen und wollte mit den Mädels reden “Sie können kein Deutsch aber sie können English”
    “Do They spek englisch, great we can plan together!”
    Und dann innerhalb 5 Minuten gab’s 5 Kinder (2 Italienern und 3 Deutschen) die zusammen spielten!

    Das war ein tolles Tag für mich!

  2. Monica,
    das freut mich so sehr! Wie schoen, dass deine Kinder endlich Deutsch reden wollen...egal ob wann und wie und warum! Du must dich wirklich freuen, und wie gesagt, ich fuer dich auch! Vielen Dank, dass du mit mir mitgeteilt hast...ich bin sehr inspiriert!
    Viel Spass auf den Rest deiner Reise...und schreib mal wieder mit deinen schoenen Geschichten!

  3. Ich fande so komisch das sie über Deutsch so sehr interessiert... aber mindesten haben sie värstanden das eine andere Sprache zu kennen ist etwas gut!
    Vielleich ab september fangen wir mit der dritte sprache an: deutsch!
    I'll let you know!


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