People often ask me how Kembe is doing with learning English. I have been absolutely amazed with his progress. He has picked it up so fast. About a month ago, he stopped speaking Creole altogether. (Of course it was right about the time that we were starting to feel comfortable with it). I started noticing that when I would ask him a question in Creole, he would answer it in English. I even noticed that when he was playing alone and “voicing” his toys, that they were talking in English, too. He’s still learning, of course, but he is one determined kid, and he obviously wants to be English-speaking. He’s very talkative and would like to rattle off long paragraphs at the speed of his siblings, so sometimes he just repeats the phrases he knows, with different intonations, until it is the equivalent length of a little conversation.
“At preschool, playing with Benjamin, I play basketball. And basketball with Benjamin. At preschool? Basketball. I like basketball”
The other day, I tried to get him to talk to me in Creole, and he refused. I’m thrilled that he has picked up English so fast, but I’m also a little sad that he is losing his Creole. I thought we might continue learning together, and end up a bilingual family. But it’s gotten to the point where if I used a Creole phrase, he will correct me with the English words he knows.
The Creole has become my fall-back if he’s not listening. It has become the parenting equivalent of using the dreaded middle name.
“Kemba, it’s time to eat, come sit down. Sit down and eat. CHITA AK MANJE!”
Jafta, on the other hand, takes glee in learning Creole phrases. But like a typical big brother, he also takes glee in getting a rise out of Kembe, and talking in Creole is a sure way to do that. For example, tonight, when he repeatedly told Kembe it was “tan pou dòmi”, to which Kembe shouted, “No, it’s SLEEPY TIME! Not domi-time”. As if they were fighting over an invisible line in the backseat. (Remember that? No? Just me with my sister?)
So, just to wrap up: Kembe has denounced his native tongue, I now use Creole as a disciplinary technique, and Jafta uses it as a way to annoy his brother.
Somehow I don’t recall this being what the international adoption book recommended.