Thursday, April 29, 2010

But, mommy, she INVITED me to bite her!

Yesterday, I had a unique bout of tattling and whining to face. TetaBean was visiting after having helped ButterBean with her homework bil 3arabi. Suddenly, ButterBean comes in whining that JuniorBean bit her. Hitting, totally expected, biting, not normal. So, I call JuniorBean in and express to him that he knows biting is not acceptable in our house. He explains, but Mommy, she invited me to bite her!

When asked ButterBean says "No, I didn't." Stern look from Mommy. "Okay, I did, but I didn't mean it!"

At which point, Mommy instructed ButterBean not to issue such invitations unless she expected to be taken up on them and JuniorBean not to bite, even if invited.

Only in a world of Beans...

Happy bites!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Letting Go of Things... But Keeping the Memories

So, I'm a rather avid watcher of the Style Network show, Clean House. This comes, I think, from a morbid fascination with hoarders. You know, those people who save things that most of us think are useless or worthless. Even the things that are useful are often more cheaply purchased again. So, now you're wondering what the intrigue is about hoarders. Well, I have to say Mimi is a bit of a hoarder. Not saves-bits-of-old-food-and-newspapers hoarding, more like saves-furniture-that-is-unneeded-and-every-book-ever-purchased.

So, at times, Mimi's House has had a Clean House "before" feel to it. Not always, but occasionally. So, these shows are a bit inspirational. One of the very interesting things that comes out in every episode is that often people are saving things that they admit they never use and WILL never use, but they have an "emotional" attachment to them. Last night was the episode of woman whose daughter called in Clean House. Her place was frightening in the level of disorganization and clutter. But more striking was the fact that everything her husband held dear was still in the house... 10 years after his death. Like most of the families, she felt like getting rid of the things, the physical manifestations of his life was getting rid of HIM and her memories of him.

I've been facing my own, getting-rid-of-memories dilemma lately. When we moved, we brought all of the Bean clothes with us. Yep, we brought baby clothes with us. We weren't sure what needs we might have and maybe 3ammoBean. I've been really hesitant to get rid of ANY of the clothes. I had large bins full of baby clothes that I don't really need. But, I told myself, if we had another baby we couldn't buy high-quality clothes like these. Sorry Jordan, but your things fall short when it comes to value for money. Nice things cost a premium and there's no Carter's outlet here. So, I've been hoarding baby clothes.

Well, the Egyptian guard at our church just had a baby girl, 8 years after his youngest of two boys. As they live in a one-room home, I guessed they likely had stored very little and definitely can afford very little. So, last night, I went through the baby Bean clothes to see what we have. As I opened that box, I was a bit teary-eyed remembering how cute each of the outfits looked first on ButterBean and then on JujuBean. Each item clothing has a fond memory of one, or both, of my Beanie babies. But, I had to embrace the wisdom that Clean House is so good at imparting - getting rid of the stuff doesn't mean getting rid of the memories.

So today at the Bean household, we're fully intact with memories, but significantly lighter on stuff. And, while I felt a twinge (yeah a really big one) while letting go, once the band-aid was ripped off, it felt immeasurably better...

Happy memories!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Curse of the Multi-Language Family

So, I met a lovely lady recently whom I have known on-line for about 6 months but had not previously met in real life. We were chatting and she mentioned this "unusual" problem she was having with her son. It is not, however, an unusual problem at all. Her problem is that her son, who was raised for art of his upbringing in the US and then moved here has a challenge. His Arabic skills are not terribly good. No that isn't the problem. The problem is that his English is heavily accented and perhaps not as strong as she would like. I was able to tell her, in no uncertain terms, that this problem isn't unusual at all.

Now, in some ways I'm blessed. The Beans' English skills are at age level, their accent is impeccable (unless speaking to their Arabic-speaking classmates), and their vocab is excellent. That's the blessing. However, Arabic is a struggle. While we live in a place where Arabic is the community language, our little home-community language is still English. So the kids, whose Arabic is improving dramatically, are still behind. And this highlights the two scenarios that I've seen...

First you have families like ours who retain English in all ways and struggle with Arabic. Then I see alot of families who get very good Arabic skills, but their English suffers. At times, it feels like true bilingualism is a myth. I know it isn't, but sometimes it feels like it is. Very few families seem to be truly able to make it work. Which brings me back to my new friend. Part of me wonders if her approach isn't why the English is slipping.

Let me explain, the Beans (as mentioned above) tend to speak to their friends who are native Arabic speakers in heavily accented English. Basically, they sound just like their friends. Their grammar is still correct, but their accent is very pronounced. Each and every time, I correct them. I'm that mean Mom you see out in the world. When my kids start speaking with an accent, I stop them and make them repeat whatever they wee saying properly. I also remind them that their friends will be better helped if they work with them on gaining a better accent instead. These days I don't even have to tell them what they're doing wrong. I simply say "accent please" and they repeat whatever they had just said properly.

I only wish that Arabic were so easy to fix. I have started trying to let them hear me trying to speak Arabic more. I figure if they know that Mommy is trying, they are more likely to. I figure modeling good behavior is always a plus, right? At any rate, I think this oft-experienced problem is very interesting. Anyone else with thoughts on it?

Happy Duality!