Despite being one of the greatest people ever to walk this earth, I am still human. And as such I have been known to make the odd mistake. As a parent I seem to be making more mistakes than normal, but, like I said, I am only a mere human, despite appearances. In this post I will talk about one of the mistakes I have made as part of the Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival.
Our son is now approaching 21 months old and we are currently dealing with a mistake that I first made about 15 months ago. In order to keep my parents involved with their first, and so far only, grandchild, when Thomas was first able to sit up straight and started to eat proper food I decided to call them on Skype so that they could see him. It turned out that there were a number of advantages to doing this; Thomas was captive and so couldn’t crawl away; my parents could talk to him, sing songs to him and coo over him as if he was really in the room; Thomas seemed to like interacting with them while he was eating and would often offer them his food.
We didn’t do this all of the time. We would often have a weekend breakfast together when Thomas would have some mashed up fruit, I would have some corn flakes and his nana would eat her toast. It was all very satisfying and felt like a proper family breakfast, just a few thousand miles apart.
It got to the point where if Thomas saw the laptop in the kitchen as he was eating breakfast he would call out for nana (he still can’t say granddad) until I fired it up and called her. Once she was on the screen everything was fine.
One day I turned the computer on and the problems started. Nana wasn’t online. But Thomas was still calling for her and was not all that interested in his food. What was I going to do? The computer was on, I had a recalcitrant child who was brewing up a tantrum. There seemed only one answer. I put Peppa Pig on youtube and the resulting silence was only interrupted by giggles and the sound of food being eaten or dropped on the floor.
Fast forward a year and whenever Thomas isn’t starving he calls out ‘Pee, Pee!’ for his favourite pig. We sing songs to him, dance for him, once I even got the newspaper and kept turning the pages over in front of him. All of these strategies work for a couple of minutes, but eventually it is back to ‘Pee, Pee!’ We shouldn’t do it. We know it is bad for all concerned. We know we are storing up problems for the future. But right now it is easier just to put Daddy Pig and Mommy Pig on youtube and revel in the few minutes’ quiet that ensues.
In terms of his language skills it hasn’t really done much for him. He now uses ‘pee pee’ for pig and he tries to grunt, but it comes out as more of a sniff. He also use ‘pee pee’ for the colour ‘pink’, which means he now has two colour words, and both are in English so far (the other being blue). He understands most of the other colours in both English and Portuguese, but these are the only two he can produce.
So what have I learned from this? Well now I phone my parents on Skype on my phone and they watch Thomas playing with his toys. He tends to ignore them quite a bit, but they still see him growing up and developing. I’ve also learned that maybe, just maybe, I am not as great as I once thought I was.
This post was inspired by the Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival which is organised by thepiripirilexicon.com
This months carnival is being hosted by mulitilingualmama.com and should be available from April 29th. Head over there to find lots of other blog posts, all on the theme of ‘Looking Back.’