My Dumpling Boy

I’ve been working on an experiment for the last 6 months or so, trying to figure out how to sneak the Chinese language back into my life and the lives of my son and husband. I speak Mandarin, but in a typical week probably spend 10 minutes or less speaking it. My husband speaks no Mandarin (except for maybe a few words from the list below). After six months of part-time persistence, our toddler has picked up a few words in Mandarin. Here’s a list:

Animals: 羊,牛,鸡,鸭,狗,猫,青蛙,兔子,松鼠,老虎,狮子

Food: 鸡蛋,牛奶,饼干,水,葡萄

Family: 妈妈,爸爸,爷爷,奶奶,公公,婆婆,哥哥,姐姐,弟弟,妹妹 (We have a book with all these words and he picks up words that have repetition better)

Body parts: 头,耳朵,鼻子,眼睛,嘴巴,口,牙齿,手

Random stuff: 牙刷,汽车,花,飞机,谢谢,晚安,睡觉

Somehow, the boy has figured out at his tender age that if he wants me to get him a cracker, he needs to ask me in Chinese. This is the key, argue many experts, to getting a child to be multilingual; require them to make requests and speak in the language you are trying to teach them. A friend of ours noticed that her daughter was saying words in Chinese, but with an American accent… so does my son. Trying not to let that discourage me too much, and man do I get silly happy when he makes an attempt at a tone and gets it half right.

Bryce Canyon In Snow, and Where We Live

I’ve been thinking about our physical location recently. We have moved perhaps five times in the last seven years. All of the moves happened in and around Boston, where my husband and I met, went to college, married, and thought we would move away from as soon as we were done with school. Instead, we found jobs, had a kid, bought a house, and kinda stayed because we were already here, but partially because we really do enjoy living here. But, if we could live anywhere, where would we live?

What amenities would we live close to? Public transportation. Public playground. A city, a REAL city.

Who would we move to be closer to? Family (though still far if we stay in the US). Friends. Perhaps the ones we traveled across the country to meet with last Thanksgiving.

What weather would you pick? Not too hot in the summer, not too many blizzards in the winter (I’m talking about you Boston).

What about food and cost of living? Yes, these are important factors. Access to an Asian supermarket is a must and we need to be able to afford daycare for Adam.

A country other than the USA perhaps? Not in the next few years.

Throughout these conversations I’ve realized how many of our friends in Boston we have only known a short while (many after moving to our latest location just less than a year ago), and how many of our close friends have moved away. With our son, I am painfully aware of how far away we live from all of our family. My dad traveled around the world to get here, and I have missed him since he left. Our last few days together were peppered with sentences that started with, “the next time you see Adam, he will be out of diapers/be able to speak full sentences…”

We visited Portland, OR for a day and spent most of it a Powell’s Bookstore. We are thinking of spending some time this winter in Austin. We’re happy living in Boston for now, but it is only still September.