I don’t speak your language

I share this with fear and trepidation but, here goes…..we don’t speak baby-talk to our children. (Whew! I did it.) When our oldest was little, my mom used to refer to herself as the maternal grandmother, since I didn’t go for “gammaw” (We did end up settling on Grammy, btw. I’m not a total neanderthal.) 🙂

Soooo, when we got together with a friend of ours and their son, who was 6 mo older than our 4 yr old daughter, whipped off with a mouthful of baby-speak, our adorable, curly blond headed daughter, thrust her hands onto her hips in indignation and said, “Bryce, I don’t speak your language.” I understand this. I feel the same way every time we have a family gathering.

It’s not that they don’t love us. It’s not that they aren’t glad we’re there. We just don’t speak the same language. Yesterday was the perfect example. My dear, dear sisters in law planned a lovely meal and a delightful day (even if there was no snow on the ground nor any fire in the fireplace) and they were so very generous to our children.

However, it was truly amusing to see my one sister in law offer to read a book to our 7 yr old. Now, please understand, our 7 yr old is a bit….precocious. (Think Eloise) She started reading on her own one afternoon and by the next day was reading at nearly 2nd grade levels. Her idea of a fun read is Shakespeare, or her latest kick, Edgar Allen Poe poems or her very own copy of Pride and Prejudice. Therefore the book – the book of silly “learning songs” intended for a reader 3 – 5 yrs of age – was a bit of an ignominy to her well-honed reading skills. Imagine the indignation when her aunt leaned over and said, “Honey, would you like Aunt S to read that to you? I can help you with the words.” (At this point, I was praying for a language barrier – out of fear of what our little Eloise might say.) By God’s grace, all she responded with was, “Thank you, no, Marzie and I will just read them to one another.”

I was so grateful for her gentle answer, as I’m not certain that her other aunt had ever recovered from asking her, then 2 yr old sister, what she was doing in school. To which my daughter replied, “I’m studying artists.” “Oh you are?” asked her public school teacher aunt. “Yes,” replied my very verbal 2 yr old, “and I love Renoir. I especially love the “Girl with a Watering Can.” She has a beautiful dress, don’t you think so, Aunt S?” “Uh, well, I guess I uh, never thought about it.”

The creme de la creme, however, was when someone went to tell a Polack joke. My children were clueless. Watching my in-laws struggle to explain what they meant and hear the children’s responses – “You mean just because someone is from a Polish family they call them names?” or “Why do you think Polish people aren’t smart?” We finally provided a way for them to get the joke that didn’t involve ethnic slams. It still wasn’t funny to them, but it wasn’t because they didn’t understand it. (Keep in mind, 3 of my kiddos are teens or pre-teens. Isn’t God good?!!!)

I must say, there are times I’m incredibly grateful for the foreign tongue we speak, can you equate?

(Tomorrow, I’m going to share a bit more about speaking a different language.)

10 Responses to “I don’t speak your language”
  1. ~ Patricia says:

    With siblings so much older than she was, Emily was also into Shakespeare when she was 6 or 7. I also remember shortly after she turned 4, with hands on her hips she asked me, “When are you going to get a teacher to teach me to read?” Needless to say, I quickly located the phonics curriculum. I *think* I know where you are going with this topic and I look forward to reading more. =)

  2. Michelle says:

    Will you please tell your 7 yo how very proud THIS sister in the Lord is of her?! Wow! What evidence of the Lord’s working in her life…how gracious…how appropriate. “Your beauty…should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4) Tell her God and I think she’s BEAUTIFUL.

    We’re not into baby-talk around here either. I frequently remind the boys to talk to their baby sister the same way they talk to their friends.

    BTW, We don’t speak the same language as most of my family either (or John’s either for that matter) especially in the areas of faith in God, child-rearing, and homeschooling. (And that’s pretty much the majority of my life ;o) My sister and I do and our families get along perfectly. But for the rest of them, it’s an ambassadorship for Christ and an exercise in grace.

  3. javadawn says:

    Michelle, you don’t know HOW much grace was evidenced in her by that response. Keep in mind that this is the same family that had someone say to my then, 8 yr old daughter, “Can you say Rice Krispie treats?” (Yes, I’m serious! It was to Danica and she just stared at her aunt for a moment and said, “Yes, I can.”) 😆
    Bica is even less gracious than Danica was at that age. Grace is not her strong suit. (what can I say – apple, tree, all that.) (and you may take it to assume I’m implying the whole Eve/ Fall thang or you may assume I mean this apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. I will choose to not clarify) 😉 So, I will happily pass on your words to her. 🙂

  4. Jenna says:

    Anna’s idea of a joke…..

    “Mommy, how many Anna’s does it take to change a lightbulb?”

    “Um…. one?”

    “Mommy! You got it!!”


  5. Holly says:

    Shakespeare at seven? Sheesh! Your family sets an awfully high standard! We’re usually reading Garfield or some other comic around here. 🙂

  6. javadawn says:

    Jenna, I LIKE Anna’s jokes – it is MUCH better than the one being told on Monday. 🙂

    As for you Miss Holly Belle, no one said we neglected the higher reading (Garfield, et al) I simply said Bica is quite the precocious critter and she likes to read Shakespeare. (Her next older sibling would like to stick to b’day cards and cereal boxes, the one above her would prefer reading anything horse….so it’s just HER, not US.) 😀

  7. winkies6 says:

    I cringed every time that my mother in law asked the boys if “sissy” was doing whatever. UGH! Shiver! Haley would just look at her. The boys just stared at her with that “who in the world are you talking about” look. So I would look at the boys, “Is HALEY ………?” OH! Yeah, she was all about the gooey words. I am not. Talk to them like you want them to talk to you. 🙂

  8. myderbe says:

    We don’t do baby-talk either. I will never forget when our daughter was 2 in the church nursery playing with Miss Carolyn. Miss Carolyn teasingly said, “Rachel, are you a Silly-Willy?” And our tiny talker looked up and said so clearly, “It’s a possibility.” Possibility! Miss Carolyn was shocked and was still laughing when we came to pick Rachel up.

    Oh, and the other day my husband and I got a kick out of our 8 year old saying to her brother, “Will you please acknowledge me when I speak to you?” And he, being 5, understood what she meant and explained to the 4 year old what “acknowledge” means. 🙂

  9. Dawn C says:

    We’ve had several situations like that. Someone said something to our, then 3 yr old Eloise 😉 and she said, “I think that would be an unfair assumption on your part.” I thought we’d have to administer CPR before they stopped laughing and could breathe properly again. 😀 (How awful does it make me to admit I enjoy that? 🙂 Not just their amazement – but also that my kiddos are comfortable enough with the English language to throw “abnormal” words around, like frisbees.)

  10. Confession – I do baby-talk. Big time. But only when the baby is young. I just think the language in later years develops better. jmo.

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