Having competitive children has made some of the things in our life together more difficult, interesting, but difficult. With five children, I have helped with German, French, Spanish, and Japanese. Their competitiveness kept them from studying the same languages. This is not as illogical as it seems, because their separate choices eliminated the comparisons within the family, and then they only had their classmates to compete with, which is an infinitely easier path then intrafamily contests.
I know, you counted and noticed that I said five children but only listed four languages, well one of the five children, the most competitive one actually, mainly competes against herself, and therefore did what she wanted without thinking about it, because the standards she places on herself far exceed anything the rest of us would even consider, she definitely did not inherit my laziness, she must have been delivered by FedEx.
Each language has delivered its own surprises. With German, the easiest by far, we picked up and included quite a bit of the vocabulary into our everyday speech. It is such a pretty and poetic language that flows well with English so it just crept into our vernacular.
Spanish, I should point out that we live in Southern California. This practical language was taken by my brave dreamer. It takes fortitude to mangle a language so many are fluent in. But I shouldn’t be surprised, he inherited my temperament regarding excessive effort being required, and with Spanish all you have to do is go outside and there will be someone to practice with. I didn’t have to do much; my loss.
The French, wow, I was lost. It made sense to the ones that studied it, unfortunately for me they studied five years apart, but still wow, what’s up with that spelling. (I secretly conjecture that’s why Hebrew was studied at college, it had to be easier than French.) Still I am glad it was chosen if only for the mystery it unraveled. My mother studied languages at college before she got married, a common phase of hers was, Je ne sais pas, and when I would ask her a question she would use it, and when I asked her what it meant she would say, I don’t know. I can’t tell you how frustrated I was as a child that she would speak such nonsense and silly talk when I was in earnest. I foolishly thought she was being mean when she thought she was answering my question. Anyway I think you can see where this is going, the day my child answered me with, Je ne sais pas, those memories came flooding back and this time I was older and wiser and connected the dots. Sometimes it’s the little things that drag you down and hold you under. I hadn’t realized that this submerged memory had made me feel unloved, and that with the unraveling of a childhood misunderstanding I was able to let go.
Japanese, okay right up front I will be honest, I am learning absolutely no Japanese. He is, and that’s what matters. I am enjoying helping. It is fascinating to learn the culture and the structure of the language, but, when all is said and done, I will know more French than Japanese, and that’s saying something.
There really is no point to this ramble other than maybe to say, catch the moments when you can, and don’t let the neediness get you down, because as life moves on and they get busy, you still have their undivided attention when they need you, and to be needed by someone is their gift to you, receive it with a happy heart.