Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Lingering Dream

Things have pretty much settled down in my relationship, at least that's what I have been telling myself.

However I have recently had a very vivid dream which has kinda thrown things upside down for me, at least emotionally.

I am still baffled as to what it means, and why it has appeared now.

My dream has me separated from my wife, contemplating my future.

In reality I am 7 years younger than my wife, but in my dream I was 20 years younger than my wife, as irrational as that may sound, but it felt like an unquestionable truth.

In this dream I also felt a sense of comfort in knowing that my wife was probably too old to have another child.

This I felt freed me to consider my future, where I had decided that it was time for me to meet another woman.

Here's the crunch though, I got into a conflicting mind-set, trying to work out whether I should allow myself to enter a relationship with another Chinese woman, or a woman of any other race.

I kept going back and forth, convincing myself of one approach only to realise the problems it would evoke.

The conflict I was experiencing was quite palpable. At one point I felt that for my own well-being, I should try and avoid any woman who has the same cultural emphasis as my wife does.

But I kept getting pulled back to the very real needs of my child.

I kept fearing, maybe irrationally, that were I to have another child who looked 'caucasian', that my son would not see this chiild as his sibling, and in a way my son would see me as emotionally abandoning him for my other similar-looking child.

I felt the only chance of ensuring my son still felt part of my life was to have another euro-asian child, to look essentially like my son.

I know that this makes little sense and quite possibly my son, given these circumstances, would care less whether his half-sibling had blonde hair or black hair, but obviously this dream means something to me, but exactly what I don't know.

It is one of those dreams however that lingers on, troubling me evening when in the back of my mind.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Struggles of a bi-lingual child

One of the advantages of having a euro-asian child, as I see it, is the opportunity for the child to learn two languages from a  very young age, and possibly optimising the child’s intellectual capacity at a time when the child has capacity to spare.

Because of my mother-in-law, my child learned to speak Mandarin in parallel with his English from the start.

This may or may not explain why my son experienced speech delay problems when he reached about 12 months old, but I suspect not.

These delay problems eventually required about 4 years of speech pathology treatment. I suspect however that maybe my son had an inherent weakness with language to begin with, rather than any complications arising out of his bi-lingual environment.

Despite my son making remarkable progress with his English speech once he entered speech pathology, he still struggles with learning Mandarin.

At this stage my son has a genuine appreciation of the English language. He is an excellent speller and he has developed a very broad and impressive vocabulary.

But his Mandarin, despite being given every opportunity to learn, is quite woeful.

He attends Chinese lessons once a week, and I am wondering whether more lessons will help him gain some traction in this language.

It would be a terrible shame if my son does not master this language, given the importance of this language to my son’s heritage, and the ever growing role this language will play on the world scene.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Talking & hearing Chinese

I was always quite good at school.

I excelled in maths and physics, biology and chemistry, but always did exceptionally well in English.

When I went to University I also studied French as an aside, foolishly believing at the stage that French was still an important language to learn.

To my credit I picked it up rather quickly, and can still speak it well today.

So you may think that I have an aptitude for languages, given that history, and I would have agreed with you before I was confronted with a language that I can hardly “hear”, and one that simply does not follow any of the language structures that I am familiar with.

I realised that my ability to learn French, as well as some self-taught conversational German, was less to do with my exceptional prowess at absorbing language, and more to do with paralleling similar language structures.

German for instance is effectively the mother tongue of English, and is very similar to English in its structures. French, although less so, is still a related language with similar sounds and language rules.

Chinese Mandarin however is a completely different beast. Although I have become very familiar with so many words, given that I hear them every single day, I am still at a loss when I try and repeat these words.

Even my son laughs at me when he hears my Chinese.

“No daddy” he laughs. “It doesn’t sound like that at all.”

The problem is not simply in the pronunciation of course. It starts off in the hearing, and there are so many nuances in the Chinese language, that once you get to a particular age, you will forever struggle to hear.

So I struggle, although I wish it wasn’t so.

If only I could learn Chinese, I sometimes think, it would open up an incredible new world for me, one where I would directly engage with so many people that I am surrounded by, people that otherwise are off limits to me because of the language barrier.

What do you like/dislike most about Chinese women?