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Toddling Through the Silicon Valley

By Cheryl Bac

E-mail Cheryl Bac

About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Universal Language

Uploaded: Aug 23, 2014
I am only fluent in English, however, my husband speaks multiple languages. Throughout our relationship, he's translated for me when we interact with his relatives and friends who speak little to no English (or who just feel more comfortable speaking their native tongue during a casual Saturday night dinner).

When we first started dating, I did not enjoy many of these outings. Hearing summaries of jokes and witty comments is not ideal. And, I didn't have a smartphone at the time, so there was no easy way to distract myself or app to help me translate.

Last weekend my husband's aunt was in town. She flew across the world on vacation and hoped to see us when she was touring San Francisco.

I was not especially excited about hosting dinner. Not only was there a language barrier but I was also very pregnant.

As the evening progressed, however, I was pleasantly surprised at how our son helped us bridge the language gap. We all enjoyed watching him play with his trains, put together a puzzle and stack his blocks. All of us laughed when he ran around the room with a burst of toddler energy.

And during dinner, my husband could spend the majority of the evening catching up with his aunt (rather than worry about filling me in on all of the details of the conversation). I had my own dining companion - our son. He was beyond thrilled to get my almost undivided attention during dinner (I think he was expecting for me to more equally split my attention between him, my husband and our guest).

I'm sure more translated dinners will be coming my way. I am now looking forward to using these occasions as special opportunities to give my son (and his younger brother or sister) a little extra attention.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Palo Alto Parent, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Aug 28, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Cheryl - when my daughter was little we lived in an apartment complex filled with people from many countries. I was continually amazed at how the kids managed to play together and have so much fun without a common language! I love that your son gets to experience that with your family and friends despite their limited English skills. Toddler energy is a universal language! And I really enjoyed hearing how you saw this as an opportunity to spend time with your son while your husband enjoyed a visit with his aunt!

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Aug 28, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Palo Alto Parent - Thank you for commenting and sharing your story. What a wonderful experience for your daughter. A couple of months ago my son met a bilingual toddler at the park. It was such fun to watch them both point to an airplane flying overhead and comment about it in different languages. They had no trouble communicating with each other and loved climbing around the play structure together. Such a fun afternoon for all.

Posted by Sea-Seelam Reddy, a resident of College Terrace,
on Aug 29, 2014 at 5:08 am

I would like to share some thing:

I was born in India; southern state that has predominantly Telugu speaking; about 100 million speak this language and has roots from Sanskrit.

Telugu people call mother 'amma'.

Guess what, Koreans call their mother 'amma' too.

And, India and Korea are not next door; separated by ocean and far from each other.

Our languages are different, but they bring us together in a different way.

It is a good thing!

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Aug 29, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Sea-Seelam Reddy - Thank you so much for sharing! What a wonderful commonality between two languages.

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