Time flies when you’re having fun. Time also flies when you’re parenting. And parenting is fun much of the time. Please see the diagram below for the scientific principle behind this statement, and don’t read too much into the small overlap between parenting and fun–there is almost complete overlap (some times…).
In the nine months since my last post, things have changed greatly so I’m not really sure where to begin. My last few posts included one dealing with the gut wrenching process of making our choice of kindergarten for Gabriel and how we went from my lazy assumption that our kids would go to a Spanish immersion school to a gradual realization that putting our kids in Chinese immersion instead, would position us for world domination. There was also another one about the beautiful and surprising phenomenon of two siblings enhancing each other’s bilingual skills through the mere act of playing (especially if given the right incentive), and finally, one about the ethically questionable but definitely effective tool that are sweet, ass-kicking TV cartoons in the foreign language (i.e. the incentive).
I’ll spare you the gory details and skip through the whole process of mentally preparing our kid to go to the mainstream, neighborhood school only to find out that that the deities of Taoism, Buddhism and optimism saw to it that Gabriel makes it into our much desired Chinese immersion school, after having been 20-somethingth on the waiting list. Today, our home is one that houses a nacent trilingual family.
All the principles, beliefs, convictions, intuitions and other e-tions I had about multilingual upbringing and education have been validated, cemented, and amplified. In these short four months, our son Gabriel continues to not only blossom as a fluent English and Spanish speaker (and little by little, also a reader and writer), but he has acquired a mind-blowing degree of comfort with the Chinese language he’s learning at school. And as a result, our son Sam is also benefiting from his brother’s excitement and knowledge of all three languages, well before he starts kindergarten himself.
Last night, I found myself called unexpectedly to volunteer at an open house event at Gabriel’s school, where they wanted some parents of new students to be available to speak to prospective parents. Six thirty in the evening, in December, in Minnesota, calls for tea drinking at home in one’s robe, while catching up on one’s Netflix instant queue, instead of sitting in cold and tiny kindergarten classroom chairs for two hours. But I found myself overtaken by pride and excitement and rambling enthusiastically to nervous prospective parents about the benefits of language immersion from the perspective of a parent who has now signed up to juggle three different languages in the upbringing of his children. At the end of the evening, a couple of parents came up to me to ask me more questions, and I was kind enough to autograph their t-shirts and their forearms.
It felt great to be forced to articulate what my lovely wife and I have been at once agonizing but also gushing about: Increasing the complexity of our multilingual adventure and already seeing that our children are up to it.
Below is Gabriel’s Chinese name, created between him and his teacher – it fittingly means “New Treasure”