Tag Archives: communication

My sprouts

I haven’t written much about the kids lately, what with the utter and total domination a few other men had in my blogging life lately.

Lane started pre-K. It is safe to say that she likes it.  In fact, I think it’s entirely safe to say that she loves it immensely and seems to be a great fit for her.  She took a little time warming up to her teachers (she has two, a main teacher and an assistant — 2 teachers for twelve kids — how’s that for an awesome student:teacher ratio!?), which wasn’t surprising because she will rarely if ever speak to someone new, but this week she started talking to them directly and telling me about them.  She warmed up to all the kids right away, and already seems to have forged some friendships, at least from her point of view.  (I tend to look at these early ‘friendships’ with skepticism, until I have proof the friendship is requited.  When Lane was in day care, another girl must have thought Lane was her best friend and constantly talked to her mom about Lane, and her mom would see me and gabber on about what great friends our daughters were… but Lane never, ever talked about her daughter as a close friend.  Eek… it was awkward.)  Anyway, she looks forward to going, she seems disappointed when the weekend arrives, she freaks out if she thinks we’re going to be late, and she doesn’t show an ounce of separation anxiety when I drop her off every day.  But on the same token, she’s excited to see me when I pick her up and tells me all about stuff she did that day.  It just feels so great and healthy and normal and she just seems so well-adjusted to it all, after only a couple of weeks.

And Jake — he just continues in his complete and total awesomeness.  He’s always happy.  Always.  We went to the playground today, and I had a conversation with another mom that I must have a couple times a day when we’re out and about…

Other person:  He’s so cute!  He’s so happy!

Me:  Thank you!

Other person:  Is he always this happy?

Me:  Yep, he really is.

Other person:  Wow!

Man, it grows tiring having to tell strangers how awesome my kid is.  Eh, no, not really.  I love it.  😀

His communication is growing by leaps and bounds, too.  We’ve lost track of how many words he knows, it’s definitely in the hundreds now.  And he’s packaging them in three word sentences.  We had a stellar family dinner tonight watching Mulan and eating delivered pizza, and after Jake finished the slice of pizza I gave him, he carried his plate over to me, pointed at it, and said, “Want pizza!”

Then there’s his exuberance, his pure joie de vivre, which is just so abounding.  Everything is so fun and exciting for him, it helps to inject a little more enthusiasm for everyone.  My in-laws and Frank’s aunt and uncle are all in the Czech Republic for the month, so we’ve been unburdening their vegetable gardens of any additional vegetative output.  My in-laws’ garden hasn’t been very productive of late; I think my father-in-law sort of let it go a couple weeks before they left on vacation, and it never was doing great before then, either.  But Frank’s uncle’s garden is amazing.  It’s the size of my living room at least, and the dozen tomato plants and half-dozen pepper plants in it are all at least seven feet tall.  I ended up with so many tomatoes after my first haul I had to make a big batch of homemade salsa to use them all (which might I say turned out delicious).  Anyway, the whole point of me telling about all this is because the couple times we’ve gone to pick veggies, the second I put Jake down after taking him out of the car, he makes a beeline toward their garden yelling “APPLE!  APPLE!  APPLE!”  (He thinks that anything remotely resembling an apple is an apple… and apparently anything remotely tasting like an apple, too, since it was up until a week ago that bananas were also apples.  Now they are “nanas”.)

Ahh, they are cute ones.

Blabbity blah blah swollen glands

We had a make-up Easter dinner at the in-laws’ today.  It was OK.

So, there’s this thing with my in-laws.  They are from the Czech Republic; they came to the U.S. in the late 60s.  They met here, married, had my husband, and in that time found a whole network of Czech people to be friends with, who also mostly came here as adults in the late 60s or early 70s.  Thus, everyone they socialize with is Czech and speaks Czech.

Except me.

(They all speak English, too… but none have the conversational English skills like they do in their native tongue.)

In most circumstances this isn’t a big deal.  When it’s just us, my in-laws largely speak English.  However, the more Czech people you add, the lower the likelihood of conversations taking place in English.

Today’s dinner wasn’t just us.  It was also my husband’s aunt & uncle (both Czech) and another woman they are friends with (also, Czech).  The gobbledy-gook abounded.

After being around the Czech-speak for years and years now, I can make some of it out.  I can listen to most Czech conversations and figure out the general subject, both from the smattering of Czech words I know and the occasional English words that lack suitable Czech translations thrown in.  (The first time I heard Frank speak Czech was on a phone call from college to his parents, where he was telling them he had mono.  The conversation went something like this: “Blahbitty blah blah mono blah blah health center blabbity blah blah swollen glands.”)

So anyway… today = lots of Czech people = not so much English spoken.  Frank, lovely man he is, often tries to steer the conversation back to English.  But if he’s not involved in the conversation, or isn’t in the room, there’s little hope for me.  I know that there is no malicious intention here.  These folks are most comfortable speaking Czech, and it’s just sort of their default setting.  And I’m outnumbered.

This all used to make me feel nothing but outrage, and scorn, and rejection.  Part of me realizes that really, my attendance at these social gatherings pits me as a stranger in a foreign land.  I do still feel like there is a level of rudeness in their negligence to not try to actively include me in conversations, like where I’m sitting at the dinner table with them and they are blabbering on in Czech… but it’s been so ongoing I’m sort of numb to it, too.  I have made a habit of sort of staring blankly into space when they speak in Czech, and I find it’s quite effective to switch them back to English, at which point I start paying attention and smiling and looking engaged and interested.  (That psychology degree does come in handy sometimes… operant conditioning, anyone?)

It does help that I know it’s not malicious, and they do make an effort: it’s not like I sit there for four hours without a word of English being spoken!  I would say that today, it was maybe 60% Czech, 40% English when I wasn’t being directly spoken to.

Anyway, I’m getting all rambly and I’m sorry.  After these gatherings I always feel a little disorganized and out of sorts, and just generally blah at not feeling like I have a solid place in the inner circle, or something.  Then there’s just the general frustration at the language barrier thing.  How do I fix it?  Do I become a bratty diva and insist everyone speak English around me?  Do I take all my oodles of free time (note of sarcasm here) and try to learn more Czech?  Should I just make sure my kids don’t learn Czech so I always have at least someone to talk to?

Life happens, sometimes

I haven’t been writing the last couple (few?) days, and it’s not from lack of desire.  Life has just been busy!  There’s been lots of running around and playing with offspring and dinners at the in-laws’ and Frank and I actually went on a date on Friday.  It’s been months.

And, to my amazement, I went on a run Saturday morning and didn’t die.  Now, please keep in mind that for me, running is not “running”.  Running is intermittent jogging and walking.  But I like doing it and it makes me dodge that feeling of inertia you get when you don’t exercise for awhile.  I prefer to do it outside, but I’m sort of wussy when it comes to weather, so if it’s too cold, or too wet, or too windy, I won’t be out there.  I totally enjoy running on a treadmill but since right now I don’t have a gym membership, and don’t have a treadmill, that hasn’t happened since October when I did have a gym membership.  We have a gym picked out, and/or once we’re in a house we’ll probably buy a treadmill.  But I ran, honestly for the first time since October.  Egads.  I’ve started the last couple springs with the idea that I want to be able to run a 5K.  Three springs ago, I started out decently enough, and then got three different really bad colds right in a row and that sort of took the wind out of my sails.  Two springs ago, I ran for a couple weeks and couldn’t figure out why I was sucking wind so badly… and then I took a pregnancy test.  Jacob’s pregnancy had me sucking wind if I just looked at a flight of stairs, so any sort of serious working out made me feel lightheaded and ill so that didn’t happen.  Last spring I did pretty well.  I didn’t get to 5K levels, but I was able to increase the jogging intervals from 30 seconds apiece at the start of the spring to 5 minutes at a stretch by the time October and the total life upheaval came about.  Hopefully, I’ll find a way to stick with it again, and maybe push myself even more.  Again, I’d love to run in an honest-to-goodness 5K race, and actually run the whole thing.  Someday!!!

The running got started with me when I stumbled across this training plan, called the Couch-to-5K plan.  It is sooo for me.  I did find that I needed more than a week at each level, so I spent 2-3 weeks at each “week” until I was doing 5 minutes at a time.  Hopefully with a gym membership here, and/or a treadmill, plus the resolve to get outside to run whenever I can, I can get to a point where the idea of running in an actual race won’t seem so daunting.

In other news, Jake’s language has started happening.  Up until now, his communication has pretty much centered around our dog.  He would say “Duh” for dog, and if he saw a dog, or heard a dog, or played with a stuffed dog, he would go “woo woo” which was him barking like a dog.  In the last couple of days he’s gotten the hang of signing “milk” when he wants to nurse, and has also started saying “mum mum” for me, and “ba” for ball.  He may have also said “car” too but it only happened once and I couldn’t get him to repeat it.