So, once again, I'll keep this short. But the words that were flying around our house tonight, and the sentiments that I felt in response...I think they're worth sharing.
I was lying on my bed, half asleep from a mid-afternoon nap (see, I am old!), when I heard Kaya tell Geoff, "I don't wanna seak German with Estella at home. I only wanna seak Engrish with her!"
Part of me so wanted to go back to sleep and bury my head in the pillow. The other part won out, however, and was a bit dejected when it couldn't catch anything else. Naturally, I had to bring it up at dinner again to dive a bit deeper.
"Ich habe gehoert, du willst nicht mit Estella auf Deutsch sprechen?" [I heard you don't want to speak with Estella in German?] I asked her, well aware of the answer I was going to receive.
"Ja. Ich will nicht mit ihr Deutsch sechen. Ich will nur Engrish mit ihr sechen." [Yeah, I don't want to speak German with her. I only want to speak English with her.]
For those just catching us in this story, Estella is our 16-year-old German host daughter who's been with us since the beginning of September. Wanting opportunity for both Estella and Kaya (and myself, possibly, down the road), we created an arrangement where the two of them communicated in German at home, and in English everywhere else.
Quite curious, I probed a bit more. "Ist Englisch leichter fuer dich?" [Is English easier for you?]
"Nein," she said, a bit to my surprise.
"Magst du nicht Deutsch sprechen?" I asked, despite my fear of the response I was going to get in return.
"Ja. Ich mag Engrisch besser." [Yeah. I like English better.] My heart sank, and admittedly, I fought back the tears enough to keep them from rolling down my face. Four years of busting ass to communicate in this non-native language of mine, so that she could be fluent and bilingual, and now she doesn't like it. Ugh. Fortunately, for my emotional state, the conversation turned a bit, and it began to appear that she was referring to the languages in the context of speaking them with Estella. "Ich will Deutsch nur mit du sprechen, Mama. Warum muss ich mit ihr Deutsch sprechen?" [I only want to speak German with you, Mama. Why do I have to speak German with her?]
Feeling a little more hopeful, and even connected to Kaya, I asked her if she wanted to be able to speak to me about complicated, meaningful stuff. "Ja," she replied, sounding curious as to where this was headed. "Wenn du mit Estella auf Deutsch sprichst, dann wirst du mit mir leichter und besser sprechen koennen, damit wir ueber alles sprechen koennen." [If you speak German with Estella, then it will be easier for you to speak German with me so that we can speak about all sorts of stuff.] That seemed to do it, for as I rounded up for a furthering of my explanation, she was off and running with an inquiry about the sticker residue on her chair.
So, despite the little emotional kiddie-coaster, in the end I feel better again. What I told her seemed to make a difference, and despite the sentiments, for both of us, I know that my efforts are making a difference.
Happy New Year, y'all, and Guten Rutsch ins Neujahr!