Heath and I talk all the time about how crazy/hilarious/amazing/humbling it is to teach Frank the English language. It’s something I never ever thought about before Frank started talking, and I truly believe the phenomenon can only be understood by those who have raised children themselves. For instance, Heath and I have four nieces and nephews that have all learned to talk, but we didn’t see any of them often enough to really see the daily language progression.
Going through the process with Frank now makes me wish I had studied linguistics in school. I studied foreign language and even wrote a law review article requiring research into the way non-native speakers learn English as a second language. I know from personal experience that you are not truly fluent in a language until you stop translating everything you say from your native tongue and actually start thinking in the new language.
Learning a first language, however, is nothing like that. For one thing, you get a lot more encouragement. The first time you point to a ball and grunt, “bah,” people will throw you a ticker tape parade. Pretty soon, your language evolves from a series of caveman type gestures and single-word vocabulary to parroting three and four-word phrases. This is the most humorous stage. Some of Frank’s favorites were “There you go”, “thank you welcome”, “it be fun,” and of course “watch-y wiggles.” Before we knew it, he was speaking in sentences that were more or less complete. Plus, he understands a lot more than he lets on!
The best part of being his English teacher is that you hear your own voice coming out of your mini-me’s mouth. Every time Frank drops something he says “oopsie.” Apparently I say this approximately 97 times per day. I now catch myself saying it and think how stupid it sounds coming from a grown adult. The other day, he described his new school shoes as “pretty cute!” and his friend Liam’s birthday present as “very cool.” He can have entire conversations with his trains and does not care that he has to carry both sides of the dialogue.
Even as I type, Frank is foregoing his nap (more and more common these days) in favor of directing a series of one-act plays starring Potty Time Elmo and a certain prima donna Blue Dog. From what I can tell from this side of the theater door, his productions fall on the spectrum somewhere between Billy Elliot and Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk.
Well, time to go back to my crazy life. I really do intend to blog soon about our summer full of visitors and post some pics of the kids enjoying the beautiful Seattle weather. However, that would require me to blog from the desktop computer where our pictures are housed, which means I would have to get my still-overgrown rump off the couch during naptime. And that ain’t happenin’ today.
Hugs to all. Enjoy the holiday weekend. Go Frogs! Go Hogs! Go Huskies? Welcome Fall!!