minimiracole instant

Acum vreo două ceasuri băteam cu şpaclul în peretele verandei, activitate recurentă pe care n-o voi detalia aici, că nu e relevant. Cert e că obositor, prăfos, dar foarte bun ca pretext pentru gândit. Vinovată că aleg să trebăluiesc în loc să desenez cu fetele sau ceva, oarece, care să nu-mi evidenţieze lenea parentală din ultimele săptămâni, macin teme de copii. Că ce proporţie mare din chestiile pe care le fac ele au suport vizual. Că oare cum se dezvoltă imaginaţia la generaţia asta în absenţa ascultatului de text fără poze? Că ce păcat că nu le trebuie încă poveştile electrecord, colecţionate cu migală pe suporturi moderne. Că singurul lucru la care fac ele exerciţiul ăsta e muzica cu versuri. Că o fi bine, ce-mi fac atâtea probleme, semn de bătrâneţe?
Trec cca 5 minute în care trec la altă temă. Pe uşa dintre bucătărie şi verandă intră hiperexcitat copiii, care găsiseră într-un sertar un mp3 player pe care pusesem eu astă vară poveşti pentru drumul spre Franţa. În vară fusese total neinteresant. Acum apar deci, fiecare cu o cască într-o ureche, cu obiectul pornit de ele însele, ţopăind „mama, vino să asculţi! E cu cântece foarte caraghioase!”. Trag cu urechea. Inevitabil, copilele ascultă începutul lui Alice.

Îmi fac o cruce mentală şi îmi reiau îndeletnicirea. Trei sferturi de ceas mai târziu, M era încă pe veceu cu mp3-ul cu ali-baba în urechi. O fi un breakthrough? Prea devreme de zis. În orice caz e ceva cu frecvenţele, parcă stau toate pe „deschis”.

obsolescenţă tehnologică

Mi-e groază că, într-o bună zi,

n-are să mai existe industrie de softuri

de transformat

diapozitivele din capul meu

în poze digitale;

că LP-urile sentimentale

n-au să mai găsească producător

de ace de pickup;

că pentru sutele de scrisori

pe care voi vrea cândva să le caligrafiez

cu mâna mea

nu va mai exista fabrică de peniţe

care să se potrivească la stiloul chinezesc

şi că cerneala se va fi abolit.

Mă tem că va veni o zi

în care voi fi lost in translation,

întrucât copiii mei vor fi fost prevăzuţi

cu un stick de memorie

cu port diferit

decât se folosea

pe vremea mea.

 

 

full time work, OPOL and unintended bilingualism experiments

Thanks to one of my daily reads (even when she doesn’t post daily), I have decided to write my two cents for the

Although we practise raising our children bilingual and finding the right balance in the linguistic input has been occupying my mind for a few years, I haven’t written about it much. It was among the things about which I had read a lot and theory seemed to work much better than practice. Or my practice of it, anyway.
With our first daughter we started, in theory (without calling it anything in particular), following the one parent one language method. However, the home language would be Dutch, therefore I would code-switch a lot. And, when tired, I would stop switching back to Romanian for the benefit of an infant. Or later, I would be speaking Dutch to her in the park to make sure parents around were aware of what I was saying (you know the multidirectional type of communication of the type `we’ll get on that swing as soon as the little boy/girl finishes playing` co-aimed at stating one’s own waiting status). And there were the songs and the books, which, because dad would be home after the end of the bedtime ritual, I would read and sing in either Dutch or Romanian, according to the chosen book. And I was working fulltime by her seventh month, therefore I would only see her for a couple of hours a day. And then there was daycare, where everything was in Dutch. No wonder Dutch was the dominant language. However, apparently my input was not as reduced as I guiltily thought, because she could understand Romanian, although very few words came out.
When number two was on the way, we made up our minds – life was way too hectic with two full-time jobs that couldn’t be either reduced or given up. We chose for an au-pair. A Romanian speaking au-pair, obviously (of whom, I have to add, we shall think, even after she leaves, as family). The Romanian of our first daughter improved drastically, up to the point of completely switching from one language to the other with different persons, one year later. The youngest grew up more in Romanian than anything else, but with Dutch input from her dad, her sister and grandpa and grandma.
Of course, they are two different children. Of course, they have different abilities and interests, not to speak of the whole first child/second child psychology which makes our first want to slow down all growth and the second accelerate everything a millionfold. Still, that said, this unintended experiment – with uncomparable subjects – yielded some amusing, though intuitively explicable, results. Our oldest now speaks exclusively Romanian to the aupair, my mom and switches back and forth with me, according to how consistent I am myself (which also improved a lot since the aupair is here). She produces gorgeous instances of acquisition of rules, like placing the generic genitive marker even after her full name („Maria Sara-lui”) but generally, you can hear her translating from Dutch as if Romanian is a learned, new language. I suppose this will no longer be the case after a while (if exposure to this degree remains the case), but I am intrigued by the process – although there is no „final” theory on how we learn languages, I tended to believe that, at early ages (M is not yet 4), language was acquired as a linguistic expression/conceptual element whole, even bilingually, and not by placing different linguistic forms on the concepts one has stored through another language. But then again, maybe even at early ages, there is such a thing as successive bilingualism.
The surprise is probably enhanced by the youngest – who is, as far as we can tell, at not yet two, a rather balanced simultaneous bilingual. Het utterances in both languages are impressively correct for her age – and she switches before parents! I was in awe last night when dad said something to her in his Dutchy Romanian („Vreau pupici?” – „Do I want kisses” instead of „do you…”) and she answered it serenely with the equivalent in Dutch („Ik wil niet kusjes!” – ok, ok, it was not the correct „ik wil geen”, but she’s still 22 months and I’m a bragging mom 🙂 ! ).
I wonder what things will look like two years from now, when H, the youngest, will also be immersed in the school system. Will this `headstart` in Romanian keep? Will M become more fluent in Romanian and the difference between the girls will dissipate? We shall see. So far, I can only say that, for the situation of one parent of a different language immersed in a monolingual context (same linguistic context for other parent/interparent communication/social contact). I’m voting for the intensification of the input by either choice of aupair or import of a family member 🙂 . It works like a charm.

my cup…

I’m helplessly in love. With buburuza’s pigtails. Her dimple. Her precisely articulated, grammatical little sentences. Her twirls with a bum-shaking twist. The way she looks in overalls. Her perseverence in putting together duplo blocks. Her independent will tantrums. Het „buburuza on her own” book reading.
Just as helpessly as with mutsy’s new and elegant haircut. Her lightly tanned gorgeous legs. Her craving for cuddling together. Her fantasy games with 20 stuffed friends. Her way of mildly bossing her sister around. Her ordering fries at the restaurant. Her passion for animals and water. Her scared courage. Her princessness. Her laziness in trying anything by herself.
The girls are pure sunshine. I cannot help the almost compulsive kissing of noses and necks when I get home. But I’m having trouble telling them what American movies portray as the easiest thing. I can show them I adore them (which ought to be good enough), but saying `I love you` to almost 2 and respectively almost 4 year olds just sounds false and over the top. Maybe it’s the Romanian that doesn’t tolerate that kind of effusion. I don’t care. It’s just wrong. Therefore, for the record: I’m helplessly in love with my fabulous little ladies.

anecdotice

Maria întreabă, şezând pe toaletă şi arătându-mi buricul ei: „Mama, hoe komt deze hier?” (Mama, cum a ajuns ăsta aici? – deja o întrebare despre cauzalitate care-mi sună tare doct în urechi la momentul punerii ei). Mă apuc şi-i explic destul de pe-ndelete, în ciuda orei târzii, şi mă ascultă cu atenţie, toate cele cinci minute de aberat. După care precizează „şi mâncarea pentru bebe din tubuleţ e udă?” „Cum adică?” „Is nat, he? e udă?” „Păi… da, zic, e lichidă, că nu pot să treacă bucăţele de mâncare prin buric – deci da, poţi să zici că e udă.” „Şi mama are buric, nu? Şi Hanna?” „Da, toată lumea are buric, fiecare om a fost legat cândva de mama lui.” „Ok, zice copilul, deci V are dreptate.”

Jurnalistă o facem, că-şi verifică informaţiile din mai multe surse de la trei ani!

third in a row

(meaning third post in English in the last few days, mostly in order not to dissapoint my first other-than-my-mom subscriber – who so pleasantly surprised me this morning – with random musings in Romanian.)

The thing circling about in the bucket of my mind and trying to get a formulation, stimulated by more or less debate-ey comments on the mummyblogs that I’ve been reading with unembarrassed thirst for the last weeks, is the extent to which exposure to gender identity stimuli in the world around us makes us comply and be what we are told we are. Or rebel. Or – ideally – shun labels.
Because I used to think I would die if anyone ever called any thought in my head a feminist thought. I also used to think my children, if female, will own no pink piece of clothing – in apparently no connection at all with the first thought. I used to think I could be absolutely anything I wanted AND that the thing I absolutely wanted to be was a mum (to be honest, this is the one piece of reasoning that never substantially changed and I’m happy with that, in spite of the fact that I never got round to actually resigning my lucrative activities and probably never will). And I hated the feminist movement because of growing up in a country where the movement had done nothing but defeat its purpose: where I come from, women were and are supposed to work full-time, more often than not keep households in which their men don’t lift a finger (rumour has it it’s been changing lately, I’m not there enough to check), raise children more or less on their own – with the occasional male input of ball-throwing at little boys at the weekend side-of-the-pond-barbecue and of belittling them if ever they manifest any non-masculine interests. I am quite aware of the extent to which this sounds like a rant – I used to see the issue rather black and white and be angry at the wrong… ah, but no, I still think, to a degree, I was angry at the right people. Because the generation of our mums, while being quite driven in their carreers and telling us sky was the limit, also taught our brothers to be exactly as helpless as their dads, whose mothers they used to curse, in turn, in their youth. Chores in houses were seldom split evenly, the roles of boys and girls were distributed before we even knew it and by the time I went to the seaside on holidays on my own with a group, when we were about 15, the girls were cooking every single day for everybody – never grudgingly, mind you, we were playing at being grown-ups, and that was what grown-up women did. (I also impressed a very temporary love interest to tears in my second year of university by washing his t-shirts – apparently it was endearing that there were still old-school women who took care of their men in that way, and amusingly, I was proud to be one.)
In time, a lot more nuance has come into the way I tell these stories or see `societies`. Having lived in three countries by now, I have been able to see that people get exposed to things to which their particular society attributes values and most of the time the `irrefutable truths` about `how things are` are integrated unquestioningly in one’s system of beliefs. (The temptation here is to illustrate with examples of `universal` trains of thought per nation, but I’m not going to fall for it, of course, this already being a rambling post with too many branches). What I wanted to say is that, with globalisation, quite a mass of the thought that is acceptable and accepted, mainstream, not consistently questioned, might just be the same for many of us. This being how come we can wonder on different meridians about the effect of sexualising pictures on children growing up and on their image of themselves. This is how come anorexia and bulimia are spreading at much the same pace in different places. This is how unfiltered feelings of being unsafe or of making too much effort in comparison to others (ow, how well this ties in with my rant, although it comes from somewhere completely different!) create rejections of otherness of the least politically correct kind.

And this is where I begin to wonder about the sense of this post and get all solipsistic on my own ass – to what degree am I capable to think independently about these things when, in truth, I wanted to have girls because my own brain was washed enough (and it’s difficult to say by whom) to believe that girls were the part of humanity that I had a more decent chance to reason with? How can I stand straight in any debate on society shaping uneven roles when I have been glueing all-hated labels on human behaviours on both sides of the gender rift for years? But also, going back, are the unquestioned things which have been settling peacefully in my brain really disqualifying me from formulating any informed opinion? And if so, is there no informed opinion possible on gender identity issues (or any issues, in fact)? Or is there a way of securing one’s attempt at `objectivity` (lovely construct, can’t help labelling it `scientifically male` though 🙂 ) by critically questioning all assumptions one makes when trying to make up one’s mind? In other words, if I assess myself, for instance, as touched by an improperly/insufficiently questioned tinge of misandria, will that disqualify my view on how my world typecasts children in little princesses and little dinosaur lovers or will it just give it more strength because I am dealing with my own potential bias by admitting it?

Whoa, I definitely have too many questions for one single post and too many modifiers for every single sentence. Oh well…

nonetheless, joy*

Of everything too much or little
I get – never, though always content
I forget to breathe in joy,
lime trees, jasmin, rain on pavement,
minutes spent in books, cat purring,
the blondies giving each other a kiss.

making up my mind, I am
Joy shall rule my neverending summer.

*Leapşă şi contribuţie la un mommyblog: