Beta’s linguistic abilities have been growing a lot lately. She now says ‘bye’ in all three languages. I usually tell her to say “hei hei, isä” (bye, daddy) to DH and she goes “hi-hi” while waving her hand. Unlike Alpha, she has skipped the “die-die” phase and pronounces “bye” perfectly, without error. Her “tschuss” is pretty good, too, as a recognizable “tschuuu.” Just as it was with Alpha, bye is the most commonly used goodbye of all three, since it’s the one commonly used arounds us, but I predict after our trip to Europe, the other two will be neck and neck and neck.
Aside from those words, she also says “ba-ba” (Becher, cup), Gurke (pickle and yea she says it perfectly), and helps me discipline Alpha. She goes up to him just like I do and says, “ALPHA! Bllah blah blah blah” in a tone that implies he needs to stop what he’s doing and listen to her, dammit. I’m becoming increasingly convinced that all girls are born bossy and that’s why we didn’t have the vote for so long.
She also counts to three all the time as a preface to jumping off something, sliding down a slide, or doing pretty much anything that requires numerous steps. “Einth…doooo…deee” she exclaims before performing. Unfortunately, Alpha is a follower and even though he can say “Eins, zwei, drei” properly, he mimics her now when she says this. I’m beginning to wonder if Alpha has just internalized the idea that everyone else knows his languages and how they’re supposed to be spoken better than he does, therefore he needs to copy what everyone else does. This is probably not the case and he’s just being a kid who likes to play with other kids and be funny, so I should really not worry about it.
I’m quite amazed at her ability to understand. I explain things to her and she listens. Or, if she doesn’t want to do what I ask, throws herself on the ground in tears. But she understands. She shakes her head no all the time, too. This morning I asked her if she wanted to use the potty. She shook her head no. “I don’t believe you,” I responded and set her on it anyway. She went. Ha!
Beta has also graduated from Alpha Fan Club to Alpha Antagonize Club. She loves to irritate him. If he’s sitting on the couch, she needs to sit on him, or pull on his legs, or hit him and so on and so forth. But Alpha’s new found possessiveness is not helping matters. “Das ist MEIN AUTO, Beta. MEINS” and a snatch at which point I have to inform Alpha that he needs to trade with Beta instead of just taking away even if it is his car. She tried taking his stuffed Lightening McQueen today and was met with a deft defense and a “Nein, das ist MEIN McQueen.” I handed her her stuffed broccoli instead.
My sister and her family just visited for two weeks, during which Alpha was in heaven as he got to play with two of his cousins, T (9) and V (2). My sister also took on an active role in making Alpha speak English. Usually when someone tries to get him to speak English or he has to interact with someone in English, he just sits there until I interpret for him or everyone gives up. Not so my sister. “What do you want, Alpha?” She would ask in the kitchen when he wanted in. No answer. “What, I can’t hear you.” No answer. After a while he shouted something in German. “If you want to come inside, you need to say “I want to come in” in English!” He waited. She waited. “Say come inside” Finally he relented and said it and she let him in.
It seems strange to have to go to such lengths to get a kid to talk, but it is seriously the only way. In order to get them to speak all three languages, we have to make all three languages equally important and that isn’t easy to do in an environment where everyone speaks English, Mom and Dad both understand German and the kids are mostly with mom.
Happily, my sister’s visit also improved Alpha’s Finnish. We’ve been having a rotten time getting Alpha to speak any Finnish at all, even the simplist words. DH did have a way of getting him to say a work by saying it wrong. Instead of saying “Krokodiili” (crocodile) for example, he would say “Alphadiili” and then Alpha would immediately correct him. This worked several nights for many different words. Then he just stopped and would only correct “krokodiili.” But after my sister came, he’s been repeating things DH says all the time and, even better, saying them correctly. Once DH said something like “Ovi kiini” (shut the door) and Alpha repeated it happily with a bit of a laugh while shutting the door. But he won’t speak Finnish to me, at all. DH was discussing trees with him and tried to get him to say the word tree in Finnish, puu. Alpha refused and repeated what DH had told him in German, using the word Baum. I said yes Baum in German but in Finnish, tree is called puu. “Nein BAUM.” “Puu” “BAUM!” And the righteous anger of a preschooler hit me.
But he IS getting it and he will get it. Unfortunately for our kids, their parents are just as determined as they are and we are bound and determined to get all of them speaking, reading and writing English, German and Finnish. It’s not a life and death thing, but it’s important enough that we won’t be easily dissuaded by the little difficulties we encounter along the way.