Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bilingual Benefits on a Bike

Wow. I've wondered this same thing in my past, on this very blog: how DO you come back after such a LONG writing hiatus?

In the past, I've asked that question and written a VERY long post including some of the thought processes that had kept me from writing. Some of them are similar to those I've had recently: 'I'm dying to write, but I just can't seem to "fit it in" with all that's going on these days." Or, "I'd love to write about that thing that Kaya said but...what was it? Damn, I shoulda written it down...once again..." And the most common similar internal thread: "It's been so long. Where do I start?" Writing now will just highlight the fact that I've missed out on so many opportunities to share and look back on 'how it was'. That's the one that gets me every time. That damn brain of mine. Can't seem to turn it off sometimes when it would make such a big difference if I could...

So, despite all those similar thoughts that I've had--in the past few months to the past many--I'd have to say that the biggest impetus for my blogging hiatus was Kaya's age and her mama's reaction to it. Basically, I have to admit, as much as I risk looking like one of those 'bad parents', I haven't really been enjoying parenting a three year old. It triggers the hell out of me, and who wants to write when they're all trigger-happy--or rather, trigger-sad or trigger-angry? I know there are some amazing bloggers out there that can do, on the other hand...I tend to seek other forms of solace when I'm in deep need. So yeah, little miss K, bilingual and all, has been quite the "normal" three year old, complete with tantrums and testing. No longer has Mama been so concerned with which language comes out of Kaya's mouth (which, yes, in retrospect, a HUGE relief!), but rather, which words don't come out of mine.

But alas, here I sit, feeling once again, madly in love with our little Kaya. And I swear, I think a good chunk of that feeling has to do with my assumption that her German has improved, and she can now express herself not only better, but cuter in German, as I had been watching herself do in English for months. Granted, I'm still no scientist, but...that's my sense. I absolutely love listening to her speak German these days. And continue to be shocked, at times, and generally wooed by not only the words she uses, the way she uses them, but even more so, the tone of voice, expressions and lip movements that accompany her expressions. Yesterday at the dinner table, for example, Geoff and I both started laughing as she emphasized her "dannnn" [then], in the same way she's been emphasizing it lately in English--lips twisted, eyes scrunched, emphasis on the "da"..., and making it very clear that that's the way it's going to be.

Anyway, it's prime time for blogging, apparently. I've got this whole list of Kaya-stories I'm dying to share: the Octopus on the airplane door; Daddy singing in German; Kaya's backpack idea and the resourcefulness that comes with it...

But don't worry. The hiatus is over. We are back in the saddle, rearin' to go, taking notes like madmen and ready to share. For now, I'll share this photo of Kaya on her "bike" today--after our trip to the co-op, she had had enough of wearing her backpack while riding. As she slows to remove her pack, she hangs one shoulder strap on the right handle-bar, looking up at me wryly to check out my reaction. I smiled, though admittedly wondering how that would turn out, and we carried on towards home. Soon, I noticed a rubbing sound, and mentioned to her that her backpack would get dirty if she kept riding like that. She certainly didn't like that idea, so she quickly stopped to adjust. I was curious. I watched with greater admiration and love as she took her backpack from the one side, turned it around so that both shoulders were facing the front tire, and hung her pack from both bars, where it fit perfectly between her legs as then continued to "skuut" herself along (she's on a pedal-less bike).

What impressed me the most is not only how quickly that idea came to her, but that it came to her faster than any idea came to me. I mean, not that I expect myself, at nearly 38, to be "smarter" or somehow "better" than my daughter, at 3 1/2...but...I mean...yeah. If I recall, one of the benefits of bilingualism is increased resourcefulness. But, just to be sure, I just checked out the article I was thinking of and found that, more specifically, Kaya is clearly benefitting from this whole 'non-native bilingual experiment' in more ways that I realized--specifically in reference to just this bike scene:
  • improved cognitive skills
  • heightened creativity
  • easier time focusing on tasks
  • faster response time (ahh, there it is! The one that has her faster than Mama!)
As many of you know--at least those of you who know me on the street--I don't tend to brag about my kid. I tend to believe that we're all human, and for the most part, we're all privy to the human condition, with some strengths and some weaknesses and generally, following the 'pattern' that's been given to us: human brain.  And yeah, in this one, I guess I'm not so much as bragging about what we've got on our hands, as feeling incredibly happy and joyous and shocked and impressed and wow. It's working. And I can't help but to share with those of you whose passions are in a similar place--or at least those of you who love Kaya almost as much as I do (b/c it's not possibly for anyone to love her as much as I do right now! except maybe you, Nana, wherever you are!)

I've missed you, dear readers, dear blogger friends across the world. I'm so glad to be back. Thanks for the welcome, I can feel it already, before even clicking Publish (hmmm...that might make me sound a bit cocky, huh?!).

Love abounds.


  1. Welcome back Tamara :D

    I too have been caught up in 'life' and not managing to get to my keyboard too often. Also ... I owe you an email ... Haven't forgotten just need to sit myself down in a quiet corner ( pretty hard to find in our house right now I admit)

    1. Thanks, Maman! It's so nice to hear from you again--what a wonderful welcome from an old blogging friend across the seas! I can only imagine how full your life is now, with two little ones! I'm dying to hear how the French is panning out...esp. with the new little guy. Do send a photo sometime? And please let that 'email debt' go...write when it moves you, when you have the time.
      Smiles your way,

  2. So fun to hear your update! You know, they say three is the new two, so don't worry — it gets easier. :)

    I love her bike problem-solving skills — and that you let her figure it out herself! What a fun moment.

    I've been feeling blah as far as our non-native bilingualism goes, so I needed this pick-me-up. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Lauren, I appreciate seeing you 'around' again--your blog is such a hit, I feel honored that I'm able to offer you something that makes a difference for you! =) So, thank you so much for sharing that reminds me of why I started blogging in the first place. It's fun to have you join our journey now and again. Thanks! I look forward to having more time to be in your world soon, too!

  3. Great to have you back, Tamara! I've taken a wee hiatus myself and just returned. I read an article in my yoga magazine called "Begin Again". It's such a freeing idea. We all fall off the wagon from time to time (with whatever goal - or goals - we have). Berating ourselves for it does no good. So just take a deep breath and "begin again" right where you are. It's good advice for my yoga practice, but applies in oh so many other ways, too!
    I can also relate big-time to your frustrations with raising a toddler. Aleksander reminds me of Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde - sweet, funny, adorable one second, and screaming NOOOOOO the next. What? Where did my little boy go?! Thank goodness for all the wonderful moments :)
    I always enjoy hearing about Kaya's adventures! Looking forward to hearing more stories. The octopus on the airplane door??? Do tell!

    1. Hi again, Kate! It's fun to hear that we were on dual hiatuses...maybe it was something in the air?! I love the 'begin again' idea, thanks so much for sharing that. I feel like I finally got the gist of that concept in the past year, and it does feel VERY freeing, indeed!
      And yes, raising Kaya does feel very much like being with Jeckyl and Hyde! It's VERY true that it's a good thing they start out so sweet and endearing! my neighbor just had a baby, that I was holding this morning, and I had the quick thought: I want one--I quickly got a hold of my emotions, and checked in with the others ones that have me super excited to have one, and bask in the glory of life with a singleton. =)

      Have started another blog entry...we'll see about getting out the octopus one soon, too! Thanks for the loving welcome!


I LOVE reading your comments, they make such a difference! Thanks for sharing!