Today is definitely not my kind of day. First, the workers came to do something in our house. I was home with the children, the workers were, well, working, and everybody was loud so now I have a headache. The fact that I didn't sleep well last night doesn't help. Also, outside it is raining. Again.
Luckily, Leanna came to the rescue with this great post. In it, she describes her husband's experience of being corrected.... by a three-year old. I met Leanna through the Multicultural Kids Blog and she is a kind, wonderful person. Check out Leanna's blog ,with the great name, All Done Monkey- it seems that after the interview with Adam we're not done with monkeys just yet!
We knew this moment would come, we just didn't expect it to come so soon. Sometime before his third birthday, our son began to correct my husband's English. "No, Daddy, it's party," Monkey insisted, though this is what my husband had said.
My husband has a very light accent in English, but it does show up in certain words, like "party," which is exactly what the hippos in the book were trying to do. To Monkey's ears, it sounded like his father was having the hippos go "potty" - an entirely different story! We are raising our sons to be bilingual in Spanish and English, using the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method. Since I am from the US, I speak to the boys exclusively in English, and my husband, who is from Costa Rica, speaks to them only in Spanish. Although we are lucky enough to travel to Costa Rica periodically, for the most part our Monkeys are immersed in the English-speaking environment of the US. And, of course, so are we. Which means that although my husband has made an heroic effort to speak to the boys only in Spanish, they do regularly hear him speak English as well - to me, to friends, to people on the phone. And - much more rarely - to the boys.
One instance when this tends to happen is at bedtime. We have had a lot of luck finding books in Spanish for the boys to read, but of course many of their books are in English. And so, at night Monkey is likely to ask us to read him books that are in English. When it is my husband's turn to do bedtime, he usually translates into Spanish as he reads. These days, however, Monkey is at an age when he likes to hear a story told the same way every time, and so my husband will often oblige and read the books in English. But since Monkey spends most of his time with me, he is used to how I read the stories, including how I pronounce the words. And so lately he has started to correct his father, just as he would correct him when my husband skips a part of the story or teasingly begins to talk about the Dog in the Hat instead of the Cat.
To Monkey, the above exchange ("party" vs. "potty") was insignificant, but to my husband and me it was a sign of things to come. How will our Monkey feel about our accents as he gets older? Will he be embarrassed of my Spanish, or try to help my husband with his English? I suspect the next turning point will come when he starts school and begins to care about what his friends think. Will being different make us the "weird" parents or (fingers crossed) the "cool" ones? More significantly, how will our son see himself?
Something in our favor is that we have many friends with accents, since they come from Mexico, Colombia, the Phillippines, Iran, and India, among others. So hopefully having an accent will seem as normal to Monkey as not and just one more difference to enjoy rather than ridicule. Do your children correct your accent? How can we use it as a way to teach about heritage and diversity?
Leanna is a stay at home mother to a sweet, funny, rambunctious three year old boy and his adorable, smiley baby brother. She draws inspiration from the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith and tries to raise her Monkeys in a fun, spiritual, loving environment. She and her husband, who is from Costa Rica, are raising their boys to be bilingual and bicultural but more importantly to be “world citizens.” Having studied anthropology, history, and library science, Leanna now trolls the internet and Pinterest for recipe and craft ideas. ”All Done Monkey” is her attempt to make sense of it all.