Thursday, February 12, 2009
My daughter loves mei....
Raising a bi-lingual child is truly an interesting experience. When I first came to Berlin I spent a year baby-sitting a half-American boy who was just a little bit older than my eldest daughter is now. He was very verbal. When I picked him up from pre-school he would say something like "Let's go to the cafe and get some cake." and then turn around and say "We're going to the cafe to get some cake," in perfect German to one of the other mothers. Ok, so it may have been the little kid version of that, but still, his command of both languages was really impressive.
My daughter isn't quite that advanced yet. There are some bi-lingual pre-schools in Berlin, but they are mainly in Prenzlauer Berg in the east or Zehlendorf in the west. But I'm a Kreuzberger at heart and am not going to move to a neighborhood I'm not that crazy about just so my daughter can sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider...Still, it was much to my dismay when she first started to talk and it was only in German even though I talk to her more or less exclusively in English. We spent a month in California over Christmas and it really made a difference. Now it is one of favorite games to come over to you and list off nose, mouth, ear, head...after poking each one.
My favorite words are the words she makes up that are in neither English nor German like, for example, mei. Mei is her word for music, something she likes playing in the background at all times. My mom got her a Wee Sing c.d. for Christmas. Although it was fun to hear little kids singing Five little monkeys and This Old Man at first, by the 20th time I was about ready to tear my hair out. A jazz fan, I started playing Herbie Hancock and Bill Evans instead which, luckily, she so far seems to like just as much as Hickory Dickory Dock. This morning when I was getting her dressed for pre-school she was in a really bad mood. I took a break from trying to force her into her snow suit and put on "You Must Believe in Spring." She immediately calmed down and let out a long sigh. "Mei", she said, with adoration.