Sunday, March 7, 2010

Eating my words

I met my husband when I was 19. Young and idealistic and prone to saying things that current me wouldn't. I don't think I'm all that different at the core, just more practical.

So one day 19 or maybe 20 year old me was having a conversation with 24 year old him about future kids and how we'd raise them. Language came into play and he said he wanted our kids to learn the national language of his father's heritage. As a bit of background, our parents are from all over. His mother is the only one who was born here and the others are all from different countries. Each of our father's are from countries where a language other than English is the main language. My mother's home nation uses English, but there's a dialect that most of my family speaks.

Most of my husband's family (including my husband) speaks language A, which is less well known in the whole country. He proposed that we both learn language B, the national language, and in turn teach it to our children. 19 year old me said yes.

Honestly I'd forgotten all about that discussion until a few months ago. He saw a language program at the mall during the holidays and brought it up again. For some reason I didn't stop him. Now he's ready to buy the program (to the tune of $500) and I just don't want to.

I'm not very good at learning language. Really, I'm stunningly bad. I'd say I speak English and can get by in Spanish and that's after 9 years of instruction and 4 months of living in a Spanish speaking country.

There's also the fact that half of his family won't talk to us. They're upset that he didn't marry someone of his nationality and recently snubbed us when we were in their hometown. Also, all of his family in the US (he doesn't have contact with those back home) speak English. His father doesn't actually know either dialect.

On the other hand my father & stepmother live in their home country. I never learned growing up because my parent's split. My stepmom's English has faded since they moved home 10 years ago thought my father's English is pretty good. All of the extended family in the US speak both languages, but tend to lapse into the other language when together because it's everyone's first language. I don't necessarily think I want us to learn my father's language (fall back on I'm really bad at language) but if we're going to learn one I think the one that will help our kids communicate with the family should take precedence.

I think if anything we should raise our children with a language that will help them as they grow. Our city is 35% hispanic/latino and 90% of job applications say something like 'Spanish preferred.' Or how about Mandarin? Outside of visiting his father's country language B is rarely used.

So here we are, my husband ready to spend a whole lot of money on something that I've technically agreed to that I don't think is practical. I know it's important to him, so in the end I'll cave, but I really wish I could go back 9 years and say something else.

1 comment:

Jenn @ Paying Myself said...

A lot of things change in 9 years and I'm sure if you explained it to your husband like you've explained it here, he will understand. It's an investment not just of money but of time and a big commitment to speak two languages to your children all the time. You shouldn't just give in and I'm sure he'll understand that what you said when you were 19 was maybe without the understanding and thought you have given it now.