Saturday, December 08, 2012

To hover or not to hover -- Day 2

The Implet is having a playdate. I went and picked up my BFF's daughter. Another Tamizhian. Both kids know and speak Tamizh really well. A lot better than many of their peers.
Yet for some reason every minute they spend together they choose to converse only in English.

My friend and I spend most of our time during such playdates to constantly holler/whisper/shout 'Use Tamizh Goddammit!'.


Another day I was at another BFF's house and when I asked The Implet to speak in Tamizh for the nth time, my friend interjected. " Why are you bothering her so much? Let her talk in whichever language she likes to. The kids are playing, don't jump in".

I realized I was turning into a helicopter mom, constantly hovering over my kids monitoring their language. Not for bad language but for no language at all. My nightmare is not that my kid would swear but that she would lash out only in English and use nary a word in Tamizh. For me there could be nothing worse.

As much as I agree wholeheartedly with my friend that I shouldn't be a helicopter parent, I worry that if i don't push her often enough, her mother tongue would slowly be pushed to the back room and finally kicked out. I am not a born-again language fundamentalist but as a Tamizh speaking Indian making a living on foreign shores, my only connection to the world I grew up in is my mother tongue. I live in a melting pot. My children go to  school with other children from different cultures and their only common link is English. Her English is impeccable and rightly so considering that is what is going to help her navigate this global world. Yet my heart yearns that she doesn't throw away the sounds of her grandparents, the melody of her lullabies. I dream she would hold onto it long enough to pass it on to her progeny. What use are branches that reach to the skies if the root remains old and dying?

Note: Ignore the irony of penning this note in English


Blogger Ramya said...

It's my nightmare that Laya won't know any tamil either. The few words she says in Tamil are already accented (i don't know where she got that from.. we are the only ones who speak Tamil with her)..

2:28 PM  
Blogger Meera said...

It is such an uphill task teaching them something that is so taken for granted wth us. Our generation's curse is we are forever playing cat on the wall! I don't even know f we shd jump or rather when to jump ;)

12:22 PM  
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