Friday, June 6, 2008

Spontaneous English Day

So many of you are probably wondering...
How's it going?!?!

Well, we've been home just barely three weeks now. It's amazing to simultaneously realize how long ago it seems that we met Jesse Yong...and yet how fast the time flies.

It's becoming so natural to think in terms of three rather than two. Weird, though, considering it's been 10 years that it's been just the two of us. (Jason and I met at a cafe this summer ten years ago; how prosaically romantic, I know.)

I haven't written many stories lately because there haven't been that many really wild anecdotes to share (at least none publicly... hehehehe). Nah, really, it's been very uneventful. Yet crazily FUN!

Things are going so very well that I keep (metaphorically) looking over my shoulder to see what big disaster must be approaching because it seems impossible that adopting a 4yo could go this smoothly.

He is a great kid: funny, SMART, talkative (in Chinese), happy to have a family, friendly to others (after initial shyness). He now likes giving hugs to people (esp. to little friends and cousins, etc, not so much to big people).

This morning was what I'm calling his first official Spontaneous English Day. I am so excited!!! But let me backtrack...

Everyone's been asking about the communication issues and how it's going and how in the world do we know what he's saying? Well, we don't. But it's surprisingly easy to figure out what he needs/wants for the most part. And as far as communicating to him, well, wild gesturing and SPEAKING REALLY LOUDLY AND SLOWLY LIKE THE PERSON IS REALLY REALLY HARD OF HEARING always works really well with the French-Canadian tourists that visit our area, so this really isn't that much different. We just have to be a lot louder, because we have to communicate a lot more information a lot more often. And he's 4, so he gets distracted easily.


Lest you think we spend our days hollering at this poor kid, I'll say the best way to describe it (although the simile falls short) is that it is like having a two-year-old in a 4-year-old body. Based on his responses, I'm guessing he understands about 90% of what we directly say to him.

What's crazy is that sometimes I have no idea if I've used some of the words before, but I'll string a sentence asking him to do something.....and off he goes! I find myself raising my eyebrows in surprise a lot.

So, back to this morning.

Although he's been mirroring our vocab for a while now, today was the first day he spoke spontaneously in English. By that I mean that he voluntarily (and appropriately) spouted English in lieu of Chinese, and he did it completely unprompted by us.

What did this genius of a son have to say, unprompted, at breakfast?

I quote:
"Mother, your food leaves much to be desired. A bit more cilantro for the liver, or a miniscule placement of garlic for the blood would vastly improve this dish."

OK. Well. That's what he meant to say. But it came out sounding more like:

"Thank you."

That's right folks. A crisp, clear "Thank you."

To top it off, later in the day I gave him a candy watch to wear (with chiclet treats inside). He was all excited because Baba wears a watch, and Jesse always points to it and tries to put it on.
So I told him that he could show Baba his watch when Baba came home. A few minutes later he comes up to me and says (clear as a bell), "Show Baba watch" and he pointed to the front door to indicate later, when Baba came home.

I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but this morning's voluntarily English at breakfast was a thing of auditory beauty to these ears that hear nothing all day long, day after day, but an incomprehensible smattering of consonants and vowels strung randomly together like those ceaseless strings of blinking Christmas tree lights strung all across the Griswalds housetop and lawn in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.

Imagine putting a Chinese or Japanese martial arts film in and letting it play continuously for 8 hours each day. Over and over, lots of harsh gutterals and spittal. With NO SUBTITLES. Only it's not in the background. It's sitting in front of you at the table in the body of a very verbal 4-year-old. Hah. Now you know my pain and can appreciate our enthusiasm.

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