Thursday, June 28, 2007

Language week #3: Ein Auswahl des Sagens eines zweispragigen Kind/A selection of expressions from a bilingual child

(An English translation follows immediately.)

Seit ich diesen Post schrieb, machte der Small Boy viel Vorschritt und nutzt nicht mehr einfach Nomen aber Sätze von fünf oder sechs Wörter. Ich bin erstaunt, wie schnell es gegangen ist. Er mischt seine Sprache, aber zweisprachig Kinder machen das oft und später lernen selber die Sprachen zu unterschiden. Im moment, er nutzt die Wörter, die er kennt wann er die braucht. Vielleicht wechselt er zwischen die Sprachen aber er wahlt immer das Wort, was korrekt ist. Das ist alles was mir jetzt wichtig ist. Weil ich Dialket mehr oder weniger versteht, kann ich fast immer seine Sätze gramatisch analysieren (was auf Denglisch "parsen" würde, was tont viel besser finde ich) was man ofters braucht! Zum Beispiel:

Since this post, Small Boy has gone from naming his world with nouns to five and six word sentences. I'm amazed at how quickly it all happened. He mixes his languages, which is quite common among bilingual toddlers and in time they eventually learn to sort it all out themselves. Right now he just uses the words he knows when he needs them - he may switch languages in the middle of a sentence, but the word he ultimately chooses is always the right one. That's all that matters to me right now; because I understand the local dialekt (more or less) I can almost always parse his sentences. And sometimes they do need parsing. Here are some examples:

Wenn er versteckte Spielsachen findet/On finding our hiding place for toys to be given in the future: "Dada! Look! Oppis da Ang needs!"
  • Dada is English - Swiss children say "Papa" or "Papi"
  • Look is English
  • Oppis is Swiss (the German equivalent is etwas) and means something
  • da is Swiss (the German would be dort) and means there
  • Ang is Small Boy speak and it's how he pronounces his name
  • needs is English
  • So in English that sentence would read "Dada! Look! Something there [that] Ang needs!"
  • and in Swiss it would read "Papa! Luege! Oppis da Ang brouch!"
  • and in German it would read "Papa! Luege! Etwas dort Ang braucht!"

Wenn ich sollte ein kleinen Auto reparieren/When he needs me to fix a toy car: "Mama! Auto 'aputt!"

  • Auto is Swiss for car (I always call his toy cars cars, but he calls them Autos)
  • 'aputt is how he pronounces kaputt - broken
  • So that's Swiss for "Mama! Car [is] broken!"

Wenn er etwas nicht will/When he doesn't want something: "Nay merci!"

  • Nay is Swiss (the German is nein) for no.
  • Merci is French, but the Bernese Swiss are far more likely to say "Merci" than "Danke" for thank you.

Wenn er sieht eine Reklame von einer Speilanlage, die wir einmal besuchten/On seeing an advertisement for an indoor playground we visited once: "Ang once mit N's Mama"

  • An almost wholly English sentence, but he always uses the Swiss/German mit for with

Wenn er nicht in seinem Bett schlafen will/On refusing to nap in his bed: "Ang bed uh-uh. Ang 'leep in MamaDada bed."

  • Look! It's all English!
  • 'leep is sleep

Wenn er aus seinem Zimmer "ausbricht"/On escaping from his room after I've punished him: "Ang be Ang room uh-uh. Ang be mit Mama."

  • There's that mit again. Though I guess if I were two and I had the choice between mit and with, I'd probably pick mit too.*

* Though strangely enough he insists on attempting the Swiss Ventilator instead of the far easier English "fan." It comes out as Lamp-a-la-tor.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Doesn't this ever go away?

I had another appointment with Dr. FeelGood today; I have to say, I already feel a lot better - or at least a lot less uneven - than I did four weeks ago. I think a significant part of that has been finally going off the Crinone and Progynova (I stopped ten days ago) and letting my hormone levels settle down to the ordinary pregnantly hormonal as opposed to the Seriously Medicated Hormonal I've been up until now. I'm too self-aware to pretend that the hormone support was the sole cause of my problems, but I'm happy to think I never have to see Crinone again.*

Now if I could only dispense with my mother issues as easily it'd be clear sailing around here. It seems unfair. Eight years ago, after my mother died, I did a lot of serious emotional work to come to terms with what had been an unpleasant and unhealthy relationship. I forgave my mother a lot of her faults, or at least found it within myself to be generous enough to acknowledge that many of her flaws stemmed from her own troubled early life and she was, perhaps, simply unable to change. I was willing to accept that her failings came from weakness and not from malice. I came to a truce with her memory, an uneasy one at times but a truce nonetheless, and I sent a lot of old hurts downstream. I lived a few years without seeing her storm cloud on the horizon and I have to tell you they were good years.

But becoming a parent myself has strained that truce; flashes of anger I though I'd dealt with long ago started turning up in my journals. I can, it would seem, remember specific petty hurts from 22 years ago with perfect clarity. In becoming a parent myself I've develped a new lense through which I view my own parents and though in some ways it has made me more understanding in other ways it has made me less so, more acutely aware of the ways my mother failed me and painfully aware of the things I was cheated out of as a child. Striving to become the parent I want to be - and it's work some days finding the extra ounce of patience, answering the question instead of saying "because", letting Small Boy work my loom even though it means later I'll have to unweave what he's done - striving to take my parenting and my child seriously puts into sharp relief all the ways my mother just didn't bother to try, the ways she didn't take me seriously, the ways - all the daily ways - she just didn't care. I've been less forgiving of my mother these past 29 months, these past 29 months during which I've tried every day to raise Small Boy with love and respect. It's not easy, being a parent, and it's not easy being a parent when you've got your own problems, I know that, but people can do it. People can try. I try. She could have tried.

Dr. FeelGood is focusing how these feelings are affecting my feelings about this pregnancy (um, scared to death of repeating history), which means we're dragging up a lot of old Mom-stuff that, frankly, I'm kind of tired of dealing with. Doesn't this stuff ever go away? It's self-evident that becoming a parent would trigger emotions about my own parents, that the daily acts of being a mother would make me think of my own mother's daily acts (or lack thereof), but doesn't this stuff ever go away? Because seriously, even though I haven't addressed it much in the blog trust me, there are pages upon pages of this in my journals and it's getting kind of old.

But I'll keep plowing through it (trying not to bore you with the details) because plowing through it will pave a better way for this baby and that's what I do. I do the hard work to pave better ways for my babies. I try to be a better person so that I can help my child(ren) become a better person. Something my mother didn't do, which is what is pissing my off in the first place.

How ironic that my indifferent, alcoholic, troubled and sometimes downright mean mother is part of the reason I'm a good mother.

And no, she doesn't get to take credit for that.

*Crinone, don't take it personally. I'll always be grateful for the ways you enabled and supported this pregnancy but your side-effects range from distasteful (*cough* discharge *cough*) to debilitating (*cough* emotional roller-coaster *cough*) and I've had enough. Fare thee well.

** Oh, and did I mention my insurance company is only going to pay part of the bill? Because, you know, possibly heading off post-partum depression now as opposed to waiting for it to emerge after the birth couldn't possibly be a good idea, could it?


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Language week #2: Tour de Suisse

Today's Language Week entry is short but sweet. English translation follows.

Es wird kurz heute - der Small Boy schlaft nachmittags immer noch nur mit mir im "MamaDada Bett." Das heisst, keine Zeit für die Mama!

Sonntag schauten R und ich der Tour de Suisse Einzel Zeitfahren. "Lokal Matador" Fabian Cancellara konnte ihn für sich entscheiden. (Im letzten Bilder kann man Cancellara's Regenbogen färbig Helm sehen, der zeigt dass er Zeitfahren Weltmeister ist. Leider habe ich kein Photo vom Weltmeister-Trikot. Er ist einfach zu schnell vorbei gefahren.)

Für die, die Bern kennen, das ist ja die Matte.

English translation

It'll be short today - Small Boy is still taking his afternoon naps in the MamaDada Bed with me. That means no time for the Mama!

On Sunday R and I watched the Tour de Suisse (Tour of Switzerland) individual time trial. Local hero Fabian Cancellara won. (In the third picture you can see the rainbow colors on his helmet, which indicate that he's the World Champion in Time Trial. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of his World Champion jersey. He simply went by too fast.)

For those of you who know Bern, yes that's the Matte.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Language week #1 - Zwiesprachig gutenacht Geschichte/Bilingual bed-time stories

Abends lesen R und ich dem Small Boy ein paar Geschicte vor*; ich lese ihm zwei Bücher vor und R liest ihm zwei Bücher vor**. Small Boy darf selber die Bücher wahlen. Er gibt R zwei Bücher vorzulesen und die sind immer Bücher, die auf Deutsch geschrieben sind. Die Bücher für mich sind immer auf Englisch. Das ist gewohnheit, ich weiss - ich lese ihm "Good Night, San Diego" vor und so Small Boy bringt mir "Good Night, San Diego" - und nicht, dass Small Boy eigentlich die Titels lesen kann. Immerhin, ich bin stark beindruckt, dass er schon unterscheiden kann - und will - zwischen was für Bücher wir auf Deutsch haben und was auf Englisch. Seine Sprache ist immernoch was meine Lehrerin als "gemischt Salat" nennt - ein Satz mit Dialket und Englisch zusammen. Er braucht die Wörter, die er kennt. Aber er versteht, irgendwie, dass es zwei - sogar drei - Sprache in unseres tagliches Leben gibt. Das ist total normal wenn ein Kind Zweisprachig aufgewachsen wird aber es beindruckt mich sehr. Das er einfach zweisprachig wird, was für mich so schwerig war und bleibt. Einfach so.

*Auf Deutsch heisst lesen "to read" und vorlesen heisst specifisch "to read aloud."
** Ja, okay, manchmal verlangt er mehr und kriegt er dann mehr!

English translation

In the evening R and I read a few stories aloud* to the Small Boy; I read him two books and R reads him two books**. Small Boy is allowed to choose the books himself. He gives R two books to read, and they are always books written in German. The books for me are always in English. I know this is just habbit - I read "Good Night, San Diego" to the Small Boy and so Small Boy brings me "Good Night, San Diego" - and not that he can actually read the titles. Nevertheless, I'm deeply impressed that he can - and wants to - distinguish between our German books and our English books. His speech remains what my German teacher calls a "mixed salad" - one sentance with dialket and English together. He uses the words he knows. But he understands, somehow, that there are two - three even - languages in our daily life. That's normal when a child is raised bilingually, but it impresses me deeply. That he'll be bilingual, something that was - and remains - so hard for me. Simply so.

* In German the verb "lesen" means to read and the verb "vorlesen" specifically means to read aloud.

** Yeah, okay, sometimes he demands more and then he gets more.

Just as a note: I am composing the German posts at my computer the same way I'd write an English post. I am not consulting dictionaries (well, I do do that in English sometimes) or grammars or going through old texts to make sure I have all the finer points of German grammar just so, so I am sure there are errors in there, but if I turn this into a German exercise I will probably abandon the exercise.


Language week

I see from Mausi that it's language week again. Like Mausi I participated (lame though it was) in 2005 and missed it last year for some reason. I'm going to try posting in German (with English translations) once a day; I haven't been in a German class* in, let's see, 29 months**, so it's not exactly going to be Goethe around here but I'll give it a shot.

* And even when I was taking classes, my written German was always my weakest point by far.

** Huh. The Small Boy is 29 months old. What a coincidence!!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Another post full of garbage

At the tender young age of 28 months, Small Boy has been made redundant, downsized, layed off, put on the dole. Unemployed. For quite some time now, it has been Small Boy's job to press the trash sticker onto the trash bag (I wrote here about the system by which we pay for each bag of trash we generate) before it goes to the kerb.

But Bern has decided to join cities like Basel in having official trash bags. No stickers necessary.

Anybody know of an opening for an enthusiastic but relatively unskilled apprentice?


Call me an alarmist

I had my appointment (16 weeks) with Dr. Fantabulous this morning. According to their office scale, and don't we all love the office scale, I've gained 900 grams (1.9 pounds) since my last appointment four weeks ago; the baby has grown nicely and "weighs"* approximately 250 grams (half a pound); baby was waving happily at us; and Dr. Fantabulous was remarkably, neigh shockingly, unconcerned about my weight and perfectly happy with how everything is going.

So, sigh of relief.

We missed by one day the new 4-D ultrasound machine the practice has acquired - it'll be up and running tomorrow. Our next appointment is in four weeks (falling on Friday the 13th, thank you very much) so we'll be able to test run the 4-D machine then.

* At some point I'm going to bother to look into how they make these estimates, but it's so far down on the To Do list (um, apply for Swiss citizenship and update will, anyone?) it's not even funny.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Do not pass go, do not collect $200

I have an appointment (which will include an ultrasound) with Dr. Fantabulous tomorrow, and if my bathroom scale is to be trusted I have not gained a single pound, nary an ounce, to say nothing of a whole kilogram, since my six-week ultrasound. Nada. Na. Da. Something tells me Dr. Fantabulous is going to skip concerned and jump directly to alarmed. Lord knows I have.

More after the appointment tomorrow.

(But if anybody has any I didn't start gaining weight until week 22 and my baby was a porker and I didn't have trouble breastfeeding stories now's the time.)


Monday, June 18, 2007

Parenting 101: I must have missed the day they covered...

  • Indulging your child's desire to take his afternoon naps in your bed with you is not an effective way to break said child of said behavior.
  • (But you secretly don't mind too much, because the days of curling up with a sweet-sweat smelling small child are fleeting.)
  • (Even if it does mean that you get nothing done and are reduced to bulleted posts.)
  • However, the taking of afternoon naps in MamaDadaBed will ultimately lead to attempts to spend nights there, too.
  • You will mind this.
  • Because you can't sleep with him in bed with you.
  • And it's not humanly possible to be more tired than you already are, is it?
  • Oh, but of course it is.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Meeting Dr. FeelGood

I had my first appointment with the therapist yesterday; I like her. More importantly, I trust her and think I will be well served. When Dr. Fantabulous gave me her name at the 12 week appointment, I didn't ask a thing about her, not what languages she spoke or how long she's been in practice or how Dr. Fantabulous knows of her or anything. I figured a referral from him was all I needed to know; the only other referral Dr. Fantabulous has ever made for me was Dr. L and we all know how well that worked out (oh, he recommended our pediatrician, too, now that I'm thinking about it). But the low-down is: she speaks German and English and believes it's important for the client to be able to speak their mother tongue whenever possible, so we're doing the appointments in English; she's been in practice for over 20 years; for the past ten years she has trained midwives to recognize post-partum depresssion and given them strategies for bringing it up with their patients; she lectures at hospitals and parenting classes (she works with Dr. Fantabulous in this arena); and is in the classical analytical tradition. In the past - when I sought therapy after my mom died - I worked with behavioralists and I like the behavioralist tradition of giving their patients tools to use to change thought patterns and behaviors, but in this case I think straight talk-therapy is going to be fine. She and I are in agreement that a lot of this comes down to my own status as the unwanted second child - or, at least, the second child that my mother couldn't cope with. I couldn't begin to guess if "unwanted" is a fair thing to say.

The appointment went well, except for the fact that due to serious construction at the Bahnhof (train station) all the main tram lines are torn up and it's public transportation chaos around here and I barely made it there in time. It was nice to just be able to voice my fears outloud - after all that we went through for this hard-won pregnancy it's very hard for me to admit that I sometimes have doubts and misgivings, that I'm afraid of the ways this will change our little family. I feel like I'm supposed to feel unrelenting joy all the time and the fact is I'm scared, too: scared of things changing, scared of having to balance Small Boy and a new baby, scared of having to figure it all out again just when I've really hit my stride; and a part of me is mourning the coming loss of the profound intimacy one can have with a single child. And I think all of that is probably normal, but it feels ungrateful for an IVF parent to have any ambivalence. I think having a safe and non-judgemental place to say these things out loud, to lay it all out on the table and accept it, will do me a lot of good*. And I think it's fair for me to be able to mourn what we're going to lose as well as celebrate what we're going to gain. And I think pretending that I wasn't mourning losses was weighing much too heavily on me.

I'm curious, those of you who have more than one child (particularly whose children came sequentially, since I imagine parents of multiples face a different set of gains and losses and experience them in a different way) - does any of this sound familiar? Did doubt sometimes sit next to your joy? Did you worry about how your relationship with your first-born would change? And did you feel as though an expecting parent - naturally fertile or otherwise - was expected to feel only constant perfect happiness? And where was your safe place to tell the truth if there was a truth that needed to be told?

* None of this is a secret to R but I do think a purely neutral outsider is a valuable thing to have sometimes.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Not going there

I'm not going to touch this, other than to suggest than an RE who apparantly missed a minimum of six follicles and in all likelihood closer to eight to ten, if the Morrisons are to be believed (and why shouldn't they be), might want to consider never. performing. a follistim. cycle. ever. ever. again. Really. Ever. Again.

And if you're the praying type, for the love of whatever you love, send those babies some blessings.

Oh, and let's not forget them. At least they made it to almost 30 weeks.

Top ten ways to tell you have been Swiss-ified

10. You think doing a top ten list a la David Letterman is still funny.

9. You are white-knuckled and beaded with the sweat of fear by the time your cab from the airport drops you off at your hotel and you vow never to get in a NYC cab again. And you don't.

8. You don't even bother to buy the Sunday New York Times the one Sunday all year you are in the country.

7. The crowds on Fifth Avenue almost trigger a panic attack.

6. You find the rapidity with which your meal arrives in a restaurant, um, kind of rude.

5. You think Borders/Barnes&Nobles stores are too big with too many books and can't possibly shop there without freaking out.

4. You cannot finish a single meal (with the exception of challa French toast with bacon*, because who can't finish challa French toast with bacon?) because the portions are HUGE.

3. You think food in New York City is pretty cheap.

2. You have forgotten how to calculate a tip in your head and actually have to do the math on scrap paper.

And the number one way to tell that you have been Swiss-ified:

1. You greet the Swiss passport agent with a huge grin and a cheery "Gruesseuch!!"** when you arrive back home. And yes, you said home.

That's all for now; I've been hit by jet-lag worse than usual, and Small Boy is even more of a velcro-boy than normal*** (to be expected after a nine-day separation, but still), leaving me with almost no time to blog, catch up on blogs, or sort through my email. I hope to be more or less back to normal by the weekend. My reaction to New York was interesting, if only to myself, and something I'll blog eventually. I can sum it up like this though: three or four years ago R and I would have moved to Manhattan in a New York minute (get it? a New York minute?) and thought nothing of starting our family there (assuming certain finanacial resources, of course). Today I can only say, Not on your life.

* That is soooo not kosher, is it?

** Typical Bernese greeting.

*** He's been insisting on taking his naps in Mama-Dada-bed and I'm only able to post this because I slipped out when he fell alseep.