Sunday, April 19, 2009

The language issue

Before I dive into my thoughts, I need to express that I am writing in the midst of deep anger. What I feel is what I feel; however, the reasons that make me feel this way may not be exactly as I perceive them right now. I just need to write about this, or else I will erupt and disintegrate whatever or whoever is close by (usually the innocent children).

My throat feels that it is a rupturing volcano of lava. I am forced in my everyday living to conform to the opinions of others for the "well-being" of my child. How dare anyone dictate how I should communicate with my flesh and blood! How dare anyone force me to kill a part of myself to my child, deny him of the family, the history, the culture that our language represents? To me right now, it feels like murder. Every time I open my mouth now to speak to my child, I am forced to change my natural rapport and communication to use English.

I've been communicating with Little R and S since the womb in "my" language. To change it now because of dogmatic views that only English should be used with Little R makes me want to roar in anguish and furry. How dare anyone want to extinguish the glimmer of communication that there is with Little in my language with him? When I want to naturally tell him to back away from the TV, I have to stop myself and switch to English. This is not because he would not respond if I told him in my language; it's because English is dominant here. My language is suppressed because it is viewed as inferior and an obstacle for "true" communication.

Someone suggested that I could teach "Chinese" to Little R once he's better. No one has explained to me in a way that I can understand how this could work. If he's "confused" now, how would he not be "confused" later?

Yes, I am bitter and acutely blunt in this post, but I need to diffuse the boiling fire within me. It's not good for the children; and it is difficult or impossible to focus objectively with such strong emotion.

This is what does not make sense to me about just stop using my language with Little R:

1) the removal of my language also implies the removal of my family who do not speak English, which implies the removal of a huge part of Little R's extended family, history and culture.

2) Little R does understand and use some words/expressions in my language to communicate, so why would one stop watering something that has rooted and shows life?

3) My intention before the children were born was to raise them with my language (and of course DH with his) so that they would have another language/culture other than English, as well give them an edge when they got older to learn other languages with more ease. Starting life with more than one language adds such a dimension to one's life.

4) I don't see that my language has to be terminated rather than compromised. Could we not just do the therapy (and also support the therapy) in English, but still use my language for things that are not yet touched in therapy, or with my family.

5) The more I don't use my language with Little R, the more likely he isn't going to respond to it later (when he's better) when I am "allowed" to use it again. Having said that I don't even know if I will be "allowed" to use it again with him.

6) My child might grow up to resent me for not continuing to use my language with him because of pressure from others. He might view me as a weak and irresponsible individual for not standing up enough for him in this area.

I hope that the people who want me to stop using my language with Little R don't think that I'm a push-over for conceding with their demands. However, I do not want to bicker over (and especially in front of) Little R's well-being. Everyone (who has spoken to me about this - except for another mom with an autistic child) thinks I'm wrong to use my language with him, that I'm confusing him and setting him aback for optimal learning. Unfortunately, it takes an exceptional person to withstand such social pressure to conform, even if the individual knows he/she is not wrong.

Again, I am writing in an emotional state (although, by this paragraph, I feel that the lava has settled somewhat), and what I perceive right now may not be as what others intend. At least I have my views written, and that is better than letting them explode into a million pieces that people would not be able to understand.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say your post angers me too, if someone ever told me to stop speaking french to Christophe I am not sure how I would react.