How to enjoy Five Multilingual Birthdays in different countries.
NaBloPoMo Day 13
Big Kiddo turned five today in English, Spanish and Bahasa Indonesia. When he turned three and four it was in Spanish, Engilsh and Thai. Today he got a rainbow cake and blew out the candles six times. When I asked where he would like to spend his next birthdays he answered “in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Japan, Australia, and Egypt” He didn´t repeat any of them! He said a different country for every new birthday. I wonder if any of them will come true!
In Peru we sing Happy Birthday in English and Spanish every time. Its normal really, we start with Happy Birthday and then say taran taran tan tan, and continue with Cumpleaños Feliz…I have always wondered why we do that. Even in families that don´t speak English on a regular basis they sing the Happy Birthday before the Spanish one. So now our family sings in three languages, or at least try to!
We speak a mixture of Peruvian Spanish and Argentine Spanish around the house. Big Kiddo is always asking me to read our English books by translating them into Spanish. We watch all movies and videos in English and Kiddos understand everything and have started repeating things, mostly Small Kiddo. Big Kiddo has started translating the English into Spanish which is pretty great!
We are all away from extended family so have no tribe to rely upon for anything. Its just us, and whoever is in our life at the moment. We really have no Spanish speaking tribe here In Bali although once in a while we meet some people who speak Spanish. When we do run into these people, the Kiddos get really excited about it and stare at that person for a while. We´ve run into a guy from Spain, a couple of people from Argentina, I have a friend from Peru here in Bali too. The kids notice the different ways of speaking Spanish of every single one of them and ask where they are from. Kiddos also enjoy Skypeing with their big sister and my sisters in Peru.
Big Kiddo´s birthday falls during the school holidays so we missed out on the school party. About two months ago, the Kiddo´s started a pre-school, for two important reasons; they needed some independence from me and they needed some serious English immersion. I chose the little Montessori School because it was close to our house and all in English. I do wish they had more Balinese culture in the curriculum though. Small Kiddo´s teacher is actually learning some Spanish to be able to get along with her and talk a bit more than just the little English Small Kiddo knows.
Big Kiddo likes going to school but the teachers haven´t been able to make him conform to many school routines. I am totally ok with that, I can´t imagine him spending more than a year in that school anyway. Who knows where we will be next year. As long as he leaves there being able to speak and understand English Im good. He doesn´t need to know how to sing classic school songs like “London Bridge” or have to “pray” before eating a snack. Small Kiddo on the other hand has been singing the songs at home and counting in English, even though they keep insisting she can´t jump on two feet! I guess I have some “jumping” exercise to do during the holidays.
I like to think that the teachers in the school are my tribe for the Kiddos to learn English, it´s “Indonesian” English but that doesn´t matter, they will be encountering all kinds of English along their travels and will eventually have their very own “Union English” just like they now have their very own “Union Spanish”. I´m not sure if I created this term or not, but I like it and think it fits. When you speak a language that is a mix of different dialects of that same language and eventually have your very own “Union Language”.
The best community I have found for multilingual families has been online with the Multicultural Kids Blogs Group. We don´t live in Ubud, the hub of multicultural homeschooling families but a bit further away in the suburbs of the city. We don´t have much contact with other multicultural families around here so I tend to share with the online community to learn about everyone else´s journey.
IN THE FUTURE
We try and keep some bits of the languages we´ve accumulated along the way and hope to keep doing so. So far we can remember singing Happy Birthday in two different kinds of Spanish, English and now Thai and Bahasa Indonesia. Im sure that if we go to all the countries that Big Kiddo plans to have his next birthdays in, we will learn or try to learn the song in that language. In how many languages can your family sing Happy Birthday?