Eating and Control

I need to lose weight. This fact is abundantly clear to me now that I’ve been in Europe for a while. In the US, I’m on the skinnier end of the fat spectrum, so comparatively I don’t look or feel as fat. But, as my husband said, “now that we’re in Europe I can definitely see you’re overweight.” So can I and it makes me sad.

I know what I need to do. I need to get back on the primal diet. I’ve was on it strictly for about two months this year and lost 9 lbs. Then I went off it and gained a few, then I stayed more or less on it for a while and lost a bit more weight but didn’t go on it strictly enough to really lose the rest of the baby weight I need to lose, which would be about 15 lbs.

Why the primal diet? Because it really works. Seriously. When my husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes

a, the first thing he did was stop eating all carbohydrates (except vegetables) and not only did his blood sugar numbers go back to normal, but he also lost a lot of weight. While he was slightly overweight when he got diabetes (he was a ‘skinny’ diabetic who ate a shit ton of sugar), he is now a lean and lovely 82 kg. You can covert that to pounds, but I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s only 7kg more than what I weight–and he’s 8 inches taller. He looks great and almost has a 6 pack despite the fact he doesn’t actually work out. His collarbones protrude to the extent of almost being deadly.

My sister went primal the same time last year I did and we were going to lose the weight together. She weighed about 150, which is around my maximum weight. Since she’s about 3 inches shorter than I, the small amount of weight she was continuously gaining was putting her closer and closer to the obese weight range. Unlike me, she stuck to the primal diet and, along with working out a few times a week, lost about 30 lbs. She now weighs 121lbs and looks fantastic. Being that she’s in her 30s and that makes losing weight all that much harder, I can’t believe how great she looks.

One of my friends who weighed 320 lbs went primal earlier in 2012 when he and his wife got divorced. He’s now lost about 100lbs and looks fantastic.

From personal experience, I know it works. I feel great when I eat primal. I have more energy, I sleep better. I feel full. I feel healthy and leaner. When I eat carbs, I feel tired and bloated. So why can’t I stick to the primal diet? What roadblock is preventing me from reaching my goals?

In short, the issue isn’t not knowing what to eat. It’s control. I need to feel like I’m in control of what I eat, so even when it’s me picking out the diet I have a really hard time actually obeying the rules. I want to cheat, just to make sure I’m really in control.

Either that or it’s just another way I’m sabotaging myself. Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers tend to do that. They set themselves up for failure. I do that a lot. I decide I’m going to eat primal (get back on the wagon from last April!) and then I add a whole bunch of complicated rules, like I can cheat one or two days a week or I’m going to eat primal, but also no S because that diet also works really well for me. Then I end up cheating because the rules I’ve made up are complicated, I’m not sure which diet I’m really following and god dammit, I like eating sweets.

Sweets (carbs in general, if I’m honest) have always been my achilles heel. When I was little, my mom used to keep a huge stash of candy (bought on clearance) in her closet and no one was allowed to eat it. So I used to sneak in there and steal it. Naturally, I got caught and I got in trouble. But it didn’t seem fair to me. Why should she get all  candy while the rest of us didn’t? I also used to eat all the ice cream sundae cones whenever my mom would buy them. I’d start out sneaking one out of the freezer. Then I’d eat that and it’d taste so good I’d want another. Soon enough, the entire box was gone and then after dinner, someone would suggest eating ice cream sundaes for dessert and lo and behold, they’d all be gone and I’d get in trouble. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if I were pre-diabetic.

The great thing about being an adult is that I can eat the whole box of ice cream sundaes if I want to. And I have. Not often, but occasionally. And it’s always delicious. But I also want to lose weight. I’ve been consistently a size 12 or 14 since I was 17. Occasionally I’ve lost enough weight to be a size 10 or 8, but that was m,ainly through strict low-cal dieting, during which I always felt hungry.

Primal is different. Once you make the switch over from carb-fueled living to fat-fueled, you don’t feel hungry. You can even fast the entire day and feel fine!

My observations in Europe–a place where people definitely eat high-carb, low-fat low-protein–have led me to conclude that Europeans are truly skinny-fat. They’re not really slim. They just aren’t as fat as Americans because, generally speaking, they snack less and move more. But as soon as they hit thirty, they have the slow weight gain that causes the vast majority of older people to be overweight. They’re fat and it’s the carbs.

The conclusion I’ve reached is that I should really get back on the horse. It’s difficult to eat low-carb in Europe–my husband has had horrible blood sugar numbers since he’s been here–so I’ve not really been eating low-carb at all. The candy I’ve bought and eaten really wasn’t necessary. My size 10 pants I used to be able to fit in? Let’s just say I’m filling out my size 12s again nicely.

I told my husband I’m going to start eating primal again. His only comment was, “The problem is you say this every week, so I’m not entirely sure if I should believe you this time.”

“But I really mean it this time!” But I really meant it all those other times, too.  I’ll just have to do my best. Maybe I’ll be more successful this time.


OCD and Decluttering

I think I’m a compulsive declutterer.

I’m currently at my in-laws house in Finland and let’s just say they have hoarding tendencies. I’m not saying they’re hoarders, not like my mom is, but if they w accumulating stuff without getting rid of things, they could very well find living in a house with only narrow paths running down the middle of each room.

My mom’s hoarding started out as a lifelong reluctance to throw things away. As a child her family was extremely deprived and they often dug food out of dumpsters to have enough to eat. When I was a child she would dig through the trash from my room and take out things she deemed ‘still useful’ before letting me take the trash bag out. Plastic bags were all saved as was any scrap paper. After our house got hit by a tornado, things rapidly escalated until we there were only paths throughout the house. That was 10 years ago. I haven’t been in the house for at least eight, so I can only imagine how things are now.

My in-laws aren’t as bad, but they also save plastic bags. They have a drawer full of them and they use them instead of ziploc baggies to keep things fresh. It’s frugal. They also separate out paper and put it in paperboard boxes on the counter. When the paperboard boxes are full, they go into the basement. In the basement, there are rows upon rows of boxes full of paper that I assume they were planning on burning in the fireplace down there. However, since a few elderly relatives have died, the basement is now full of their belongings and there is too much stuff in front of the fireplace to light a fire. But instead of taking the paper collection to recycling, they’re just adding to it. It’s a hoarding habit that makes me shudder.

They have a big house, especially for Finland, but everything is full. A lot of it is just stuff from relatives that have died. Since both of them are only children, they’re both destined to inherit pretty much everything from their parents. Since many of their parents’ siblings didn’t have kids, they’re inheriting that stuff, too. But they have no perspective as far as the items they inherit are concerned. Some of the items are very nice antiques while others are really old tables you could pick up from anywhere. They could be given away or donated or trashed because the effort it would take to sell them would far out benefit the reward. Instead, they’re storing them all over the house.

There are stacks of magazines and newspapers everywhere: on the stairs to the basement, on end tables and coffee tables. My father-in-law used to have a collection of newspapers he was saving to read when he retired. DH says he got rid of those, but I don’t know what all those old stacks of magazines and newspapers are. But they’re all over the place.

They recently donated a bunch of clothes from the 1930s and 1940s, which made feel relieved. My husband added that it was to a museum, which made me laugh. They must have been well preserved.

They have built-in wardrobes along the walls of nearly every room in the house. I thought maybe we could find some room to put our clothes in one of the wardrobes in the bedroom, but I opened it and it was already full of stuff my sister-in-law didn’t take with her when she moved out.

I wouldn’t feel as worried if they didn’t spend so much time accumulating things that could easily be thrown away, such as paper products, plastic containers and plastic bags. That takes me straight back to my hoarder mom explaining how we had to take the plastic newspaper bags and scrunch them up into another newspaper bag until it was full and then put it into the drawer with all the other newpaper baggies full of bags. It makes me stressed.

Normally I would react to this stress by getting rid of stuff. At home, I am ruthless when it comes to decluttering. It gets on my husband’s nerves that I constantly want to get rid of stuff. But I hate a cluttered look and it makes me anxious. I deal with that anxiety by decluttering. I am determined not to be a hoarder. I don’t want to wake up one day and realize that I have so much stuff I can’t move around my house anymore.

But I can’t declutter this house because it’s not mine. Instead I’ve been mentally decluttering. They probably don’t need to keep the old TV on the end table next to me. It’s not even a Nokia brand like the one in the kitchen, so there’s no nostalgia value there.  Old stuff belonging to the kids can be tossed on a “if you want it, take it, it’s yours, if not Salvation Army” basis. All plastic bags? In the trash. Sorry, this is Finland: I meant recycling. Same with all the paperboard. I’ll leave the reused plastic containers for now. The old VHS movies need to go. I don’t even see a VHS player in the whole house.

I don’t even know what’s in the attic. I don’t even think I want to. The good thing is that this is normal lifetime accumlation of stuff–aside from the trash they not throwing away, so it’s not real hoarding. I dread thinking about what it’s going to be like to go through my mom’s house when she dies. Are we even going to be able to find any of the stuff we want to keep among all the junk she’s amassed over the year?

Maybe I just want to deal with my in-laws’ clutter because I can’t deal with my mom’s and their clutter is more manageable, anyway.

Christmas, Three Different Ways

Me: In Finland you can’t say Weihnachtsmann because he’s called Joulupukki.

Alpha: Der Weihnachtsmann kommt und bringt Geschenke (Santa comes and brings presents)

Me: Yes, but here you have to call him Joulupukki or else he won’t bring you presents because he won’t understand you.

Alpha: Joulupukki. Joulupukki, joulupukki!


One challenge with having so many languages is having to meld so many different cultures. Where do you stick all of them? Here’s how we’ve worked it out:

Sankt Nikolaus comes on December 6th, leaving candy and small presents in stockings we have hung by the fireplace. This is presumably to celebrate Finnish Independence from Russia. The Finns get independence, our kids get candy from Nikolaus. They’re both on the same day, how else can I explain it?

Then comes Christmas. Alpha knows that Joulupukki lives in Lapland, even though he is called Weihnachtsmann in Germany and Santa Claus in the US. I’ve also explained to him that since Lapland is so much closer to Finland and Germany than the US, in those countries you get your presents on Christmas Eve. But it takes Santa a long time to fly over the ocean to the US, so kids there get their presents on Christmas morning. It makes perfect sense.

Attachment Parenting and Criticism

When I was an attachment parenting (using the label and everything), I felt like other, non-attachment parents were constantly criticizing me. They just didn’t accept my style of parenting or realize that all I wanted was what was best for my child. Upon observing my hour-long ritual to get my 23-month old to sleep, my German host sister told me how her friend put their son to sleep: they laid him down in his crib with some toys and then let him play there until he fell asleep. I felt bad for their little boy, being left there all by himself. They also criticized me for still nursing my son since he was almost 2, but I was going to nurse him until he was done. I loved babywearing and felt bad for using a stroller. They couldn’t believe I didn’t even own a stroller. I felt bad for all the babies I saw riding around in strollers. They would rather be worn, I felt certain. Being around people who didn’t parent the way I did and made different choices for their kids made me feel attacked. It made me want to make sure to hang out only with other moms who raised their kids the same way as I did to ensure I would get understanding instead of criticism. I wanted to feel accepted, not attacked.

Looking back now, I realize that they weren’t attacking me. Their comments weren’t about criticizing my parenting style so much as they were about not understanding why I was placing such significance on little things that don’t matter in the long-run. Take laying with my toddler until he falls asleep. What was the benefit of that? It made putting him to bed an ordeal. I would get so frustrated that it took so long, but would try my best not to show it because I was supposed to be an attachmement parent, dammit. So I would nurse him to sleep and lay there until he was asleep enough for me to get up, but sometimes he would still wake up when I moved so would have to put him back to sleep because if I just left he would cry and according to attachment parenting, crying damages the brain. (don’t worry, it doesn’t actually)

The judgmentalism street clearly runs both ways and most parents feel like their parenting methods are criticized at one point or another, but only attachment parents have webpages dedicated to handling criticism of their parenting methods. The advice is oddly secretive. First, you shouldn’t complain to anyone who isn’t an attachment parent–“Don’t ask questions you don’t want answered….seek the listening ear of like-minded friends who share your parenting philosophy.” Secondly, you should protect yourself and assure anyone who thinks you might need a break from your baby that you love being with them all the time. As all mothers everywhere will assure you, peeing with your baby on your lap is a blast. Thirdly, you should protect your child so that they don’t think they’re a horrible person–don’t let them hear the criticism. Next, you should be positive. Only talk about your parenting and child in positive terms, presumably so they have less reason to criticize you. Lastly, you should consider where they got their parenting advice (because it’s p and surround yourself with “encouragers” who will reinforce your believes.

Compared with actual advice on handling criticism, the AP advice seems narrow minded. There’s no need to think criticism might be justified when you’re practicing the One True Way to Parent. There’s no need to learn from criticism when you’re already right–it’s just too bad they haven’t done the same research as you, otherwise they obviously would have reached the same conclusion about parenting, right? People who criticize you just don’t realize that you’re just trying to do what’s best for your kids and your family. How could they possibly criticize you for doing what’s right?

However, in order to handle criticism well you have to be open-minded enough to realize they might be right. You have to entertain the possibility that you mist be wrong. I might be wrong about raising my kids multilingual. It’s entirely possible, but unlikely. But I don’t consider only hanging out with other people who are raising their kids multilingual in order to avoid criticism. That would be strange.

Ironically, these same attachment parents who are so sensitive to criticism themselves spend a lot of time criticizing others, including other attachment parents. The API group I used to be a part of dedicated an entire discussion to criticizing parents who don’t play with their kids at the park, because they always do. Other attachment parents would tell me how another attachment parent wasn’t really an attachment parent because she (it was always she) didn’t breastfeed past 8 months, babywear, stay-at-home or whatever. No matter how attachment parenting advocates will tell you AP parenting isn’t a list of requirements you have to fulfill, the reality on the ground is different. (Side note on this article: notice how sensitive Bialik is to even perceived criticism of AP)

Attachment Parenting does not take criticism well. It does not take critics well. Unlike any other parenting philosophy, it circles the wagons and reacts defensively instead of considering if the criticism might be based in truth. Those who say that AP is balanced and allows flexibility forget that they themselves use attachment parenting inflexibly. They might talk about how it’s a joyous and wonderful way to raise their kids and their family is so happy, but in the next breath repeat some of their favorite quotes:

“What’s best for the child isn’t always what’s best for the mom,” implying that moms have to sacrifice their own interests in order to do what is best for their children. Another was “The days are long, but the years are short,” which is another way of saying ‘my life sucks, but hopefully I’ll look back on this fondly when they’re grown up. Why hide these feelings in cutesy quotes instead of dealing with these feelings openly and honestly?

American Perspective, Meet Finnish Perspective

The high today in Finland was 7F. The high tomorrow is 3F. It’s been in the teens most of the week. My inclination is to stay inside until the weather gets warmer before venturing outside. The Finns see things differently.

We’re fortunate enough to be able to send Alpha to a Finnish Kindergarten so he gets 4 hours of Only Finnish each day. “He’ll probably spend most of today playing outside,” my husband told me.

“But it’s cold!”

He shrugged. “Finns think children should play outside.” That explains why we couldn’t find any indoor playplaces in the area. The nearest one is an hour away and that seems kind of dumb to drive to. So I bundled Alpha up as well as I could and sent him off to Kindergarten. He didn’t complain. The next day, after he came home and watched a show he announced he wanted to go outside.

“But it’s dark out,” I protested. It was about 5pm.

“Then I’ll use a lantern.”

“But we don’t have a lantern.”

“Then we need to buy one.”

I turned to my mother-in-law. “Alpha wants to go outside,” I told her, using a tone of voice that implied that this was ridiculous and obviously not going to happen.

“That sounds like a good idea! We can get the sled and go sledding!”

That would be the Finnish perspective and it makes sense. If you live in a country where roughly 9 months out of the year is what can only be described as “Fucking Cold” and half of that time you only have 5 hours of sunlight a day, you learn to get over the fact that it’s cold and dark outside and just go out and play. Finnish Kindergartens park kids outside in their strollers–well bundled up–to take naps so they can get fresh air and presumably get used to the fact that it’s going to be really fucking cold like that their entire lives. While American schools and daycares might have rules regarding the weather–“we don’t go outside if it’s below 26F or snowing,” for example–Finnish Kindergartens think about these things differently.

Today I moaned to my husband about Haakon’s lack of pullovers since it was particularly cold out today. “Oh, don’t worry about it, they won’t be going outside today.” Aha! Finally some sanity!

“Because it’s so cold?” I asked tentatively.

“No, because there are too many kids today and the caretakers can’t keep a close enough eye on them outside today.”

Yes. Of course.

Cue the Stranger Danger

I’m reluctant to talk about the recent shooting in Connecticut. It’s a tragedy, but as soon as I heard it happened I knew two things: 1) Homeschoolers were going to point it out as another reason to homeschool, despite the fact that you’re much more likely to be killed by someone you know than a stranger, 2) Anti-gun people were going to use it as another reason to band guns and 3) it would increase the level of security in schools and make them more into mini-prisons, for students’ safety, of course.

So far, the first two have happened. But you know what else happened the week before the shootings?

My husband went to the historical museum to pick up some chocolates for his family. A school group was there at the same time, all the students running around the gift shop, playing in the elevator and generally causing havoc. Hidden behind a clothes rack, he saw a little girl on the ground crying. “Why are you crying?” he asked her. “I wanted to by this,” she told him, “but I left my money at home.” “Well, how much does it cost?” “$4” “Alright, I’ll buy it for you.”

He then turned around to see three teachers standing behind him, giving him dirty looks. “Are you a relative or friend  of this girl?” They questioned him.

“No, I’m not a relative,” he answered, “but whether or not I’m a friend depends on how you define friend.”

“Have you seen her before?”

“No, I’ve never seen her before in my life. Why are you asking me these questions?”

“It’s for safety.”

“Safety?” He eyed the students wearily. “I thought this was a school group, not a prison group. If these are inmates you should have hung a sign up so I would have known to stay away from them.”

“No, no no…for her, safety, not yours.”

My husband lost his cool at this point and stop toying with them. He spoke as loudly as he could and used as many cuss words as possible. “I know you are school teachers and are therefore bad at math and statistics. I know the chances of an adult hurting rather than helping a child are about 1 in a million. For normal people capable at math, that means pretty fucking unlikely. On the contrary, intervening when a child is crying and no one is around the best thing for an adult to do. If you guys would just pull your heads out of your fucking asses, you would see that some of the 30 plus kids you are ‘looking after’ are playing with the elevator and you should probably be more interested in what they are doing instead of pestering me helping a crying child.”

It was very quiet when he finished and everyone was staring at him. He took his candy and went to the register, where the old lady who worked there apologized to him profusely.

A little boy went up to him and said quietly, “You said the F-word.”

“I know,” DH replied.

“That was pretty cool.” He paused. “Can I have some chocolate?”

“No, it’s for my family. But if I had my way, you could stay home and eat chocolate everyday instead of having to waste your time in a stupid school.”
“That’d be awesome!” the boy agreed enthusiastically.’

“Great minds think alike.”

Then he, the teachers and the school group all boarded the elevator for a long, awkward ride to the parking lot.

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

I just left Germany and I think it’s going to take a few weeks for my confidence to recover. Germans, or at least the Germans I know, can be a bit abrasive. They aren’t afraid to point out and critique when they think you’re doing something wrong. This trip, they spent a lot of time discussing and critiquing my son’s speech. Their first conclusion that it wasn’t because of my speech, i.e., how I speak German. “Nein,” one told another, “vom Sprachen ist sie eigentlich ganz gut.” Well, that’s good, I thought. It’s nice to know that son’s speech difficulties aren’t directly fault. I was slightly insulted.

So, I spent a lot of time explaining to them how Alpha has a mushmouth, where he just doesn’t enunciate properly.  A lot of times he doesn’t open his mouth to talk. When he says “ich moechte etwas zum essen,” the word essen is spoken entirely with his mouth shut. He doesn’t open it. When he says “kaputt,” he pronounces it “pakutt.”  So the Germans started correcting and telling him to speak more slowly and more clearly. Except that everything I’ve read has said you shouldn’t correct young kids when they make mistakes because they don’t hear it is as a mistake; they think they’re doing it right and if they knew they were doing it wrong, they would say it right. Correcting them will just make them more hesitant to speak. They advised me to send him to a logopedist, what we would call a speech therapist in the U.S. and wondered why I hadn’t already since he was almost 5 and would be starting school soon. I decided it wasn’t the time to bring up the fact that we were planning on homeschooling and just explained that I had discussed it with his doctor and she said that we should wait a bit longer to see if the issues resolve themselves and if they don’t, we could see a speech therapist then. In other words, she’s not concerned and is extremely supportive of our multilingual family.

But at his 4 year appointment I didn’t mention my continuing concerns with his language development, mainly because I’m afraid I’m coming across as an overly worried crazy mother. But on the other hand, I mentioned to her several times that Haakon seemed to have an unusual amount of wax in his ears (both times he’s seen other doctors at the practice for ear infections, they’ve had to clean wax off his ear drum before they’ve been able to confirm ear infection. I took the kids to get their hearing tested and the ear doctor found that there was so much wax in his ear, his ear drum was almost occulated (I’m not sure the term she used, but basically it might be preventing his ear drum from swinging as much as it otherwise would.) This could mean he’s not actually hearing all the sounds in all the languages as he should. Even a small decrease in hearing can affect language acquisition, according to a pamphlet I read at the office.

I told the Germans all this. “Well, I guess our health care system is better,” one informed me. “We do hearing tests right after birth, then the doctor sees them every few months when they’re young babies, then twice a year, then every year after that. ” Yes, yes, we do hearing testing, too, I informed her, it’s just that my children weren’t born at a hospital and the midwifery clinic wasn’t set up to do hearing tests until recently. And we do frequent visits under a year, then every 6 months, and then at age 2 or 3 it becomes once a year. It’s just the same and has nothing to do with my son’s speech, thanks. I’m alright with waiting to see if his speech issues resolve themselves because my husband had similar speech issues. He didn’t get speech therapy until he was 6 years old and now speaks fine, aside from occasional periods of mushmouthiness where he’s either too excited or too lazy to enunciate clearly.

“Maybe it’s the multilingualism.” No, it’s not. Trust me. There is no evidence that being multilingual causes speech problems. Besides, how would you even prove it? Raise a kid multilingually, then delete all that and reraise the same kid again as a monolingual and see if he has speech problems? Both monolingual and multilingual kids have speech issues. It’s completely unrelated. Again, I point to my husband, who grew up with Swedish and Finnish, and also attended an English speaking Kindergarten. He had speech problems. His sisters, who were similarly raised, did not. “Yes, but he was raised with only two languages. Maybe the third one is just making it that much harder for him to speak and be understood.” Sigh. It’s a typical trick: I counter one assertion and they soften theirs slightly to make it seem more plausible. But again, I tell them it doesn’t make a difference. Linguists say that children can learn up to 5 languages at one time. I tell them about the linguists DH talked to. The mother was Finnish, the father was Norwegian. They lived in Cambridge, MA a while while they got their doctorates in linguistics (adding English) and then accepted a job position at a university in Berlin (adding German to the mix). They then hired a Russian nanny to take care of the kid, making a total of 5 languages. They weren’t worried at all.

Honestly, I don’t get Germans.  They all seem to want me to stop speaking German to my kids, or at least my son, without realizing that if I stopped speaking to him in German, they wouldn’t be able to talk to him at all unless they speak English.  I probably wouldn’t be able to continue speaking to Beta in German if I stopped speaking German to Alpha because consistency is key. As one German told me, “but you need to have consistency when it comes to when the languages are spoken,” (and I told her all about One Parent, One language and the community language in addition to that). Kids will immediately notice if the rules for a sibling are different than the rules for them. If I speak English to Alpha, Beta will pick up on that and figure out that English is in fact the most important language. German has increased in dominance in our household due to the fact that my husband speaks and understands enough for the Alpha to be able to skate by on German alone. Since he’s been more strict in pretending not to understand German with Beta, she’s speaking more Finnish.

“It must be so frustrating for him, though. How can he make friends if they can’t understand them?” I’ve never found this to be an issue. He has friends. Little kids have ways of communicating that have little to do with words and I’ve never seen them incapable of understanding each other and, honestly, the implication that I was hurting my child by raising him multilingually was again, extremely hurtful. So I told her the story of the friends we had to ditch and their oldest son. Thus far, he has been the only child I’ve ever seen treat my son like he couldn’t understand him. Two incidents spring to mind. The first was when the friend’s son was calling Alpha but was mispronouncing his name so Alpha ignored him. Finally, the boy grew frustrated and physically yanked his head and yelled his name incorrectly directly at him, both hurting Alpha and making him cry. The second incident happened a few months later at Alpha’s third birthday party. We were discussing eating the cake and the boy talked to Alpha and said, “Do you want to EAT, Alpha? EAT?” while making eating motions in with his hand. The boy was not quite 5 at the time and it rather confirmed to me that his parents had been talking amongst themselves about how Alpha couldn’t understand or speak English in front of their son, something that is not only inaccurate but also extremely inappropriate. It’s kind of along the same lines of being racist and talking about how black people are inferior and only good for manual labor in front of your kids when your close friends just happen to be black. Their son also reminded me of the Hellman’s commercial, where the little boy goes up to the bride and says, “My mom says she can’t believe you wore white!”

Other than that we haven’t had a single incident of another child acting out negatively due to Alpha’s speech or multilingualism. They just take it in stride. Some older children might say, “what did he say?” But that’s it. Since a lot of them still don’t have the clearest speech themselves, it makes sense. Alpha and his closest friend, L., have always understood each other perfectly and run around mimicking what both of the other one says. It’s never been an issue. He’s popular and well liked at his preschool in even if people can’t understand always understand him.

So the end of it is that it’s pretty much confirmed that he will need speech therapy, which is no biggy in the end, especially if it gives him more confidence with his speech, unless things do clear up on their own. But I’m getting tired of defending multilingualism. Sometimes I wish that Beta were my oldest instead of Alpha. That way people would hear her near-perfect pronunciation in all three languages and be impressed instead of hearing Alpha’s garbled speech and think we’re screwing him up.
“Well, it’s your choice to keep to continue it, but it might be better if you dropped one.” Yes, it is my choice to continue it because I know that even autistic children are capable of being multilingual and have stronger cognitive function and communicate better if they are bilingual than if they’re not.  The benefits outweigh the costs, even if the costs mean that I end up feeling beaten down because of it.