Convergence of Cousins: How Common Language Brings About Cohesion
“Common language facilitates cohesion among cousins coming from diverse cultural milieu who converge for the first time in a span of 10 to 20 years.” – #emefdy
When our first child (of three children) was born in early 2003, she became the eldest among future maternal cousins but, the youngest among first-world based paternal cousins. Yes, all of her five paternal cousins live in the developed western part of the world. Three of the five were actually born in the city that never sleeps. The other two, after having emigrated from the Philippines when they were between 2 to 9 years old, grew up in their new country where the temperature is a usual negative 20.
From 2002 to 2006, in three successful pregnancies, our three children were born healthy and complete, all via C-section under the adept hands of Loladoki. Kim in early 2003, Johm in late 2004, and Sam in late 2006.
In one of the milk company sponsored pregnant conferences I attended in 2002, a speaker shared about how her child knows how to speak English, Thai, and Tagalog. They have lived in Thailand for few years and the kid’s babysitter was a young Thai woman who speaks to her child in Thai language. What I learned that time are truly beneficial to my children:
- That the child’s capacity to learn and speak multiple languages is endless as long as there is no confusion
- That the child’s mind will be confused if the languages are mixed in one sentence
- That whenever you speak to a child , what ever is the language, speak in straight one language.
- That you do not underestimate a child’s capacity to understand what you are saying because of language difference. Just speak.
- That you do not underestimate a child’s ability to understand you because the child is still a child, still an infant. Just speak to the child, the infant
Back then, I was considering the paternal cousins of my eldest child and thought that I would like them to understand each other when they be in the same space. So I thought that since all of the five paternal cousins speak English, I would make my child speak English too to be able to converse with them.
Using my English learned from formal education , I did speak to my children regardless of their age. I started talking to them while still in utero as fetus. I talked about breastmilk as the best food they can have. I talked to them about the world, about my family, about anything I thought relevant to their coming out to the world soon. It was like orientation to what they will be into when they joined humanity.
During infancy, I played to them the CD with classical music given by a milk company. As toddlers, I let them watch videos featuring Barney and friends, Strawberry Shortcake, movies featuring animals like Ariel, Spirit, Ice Age, Lion King, and the like. My mama came to help me babysit for few months. My mama does not speak English. I told her to just speak in Visayan language, my first language, the vernacular here in Mindanao. I specifically told my mama to speak in straight Visayan and not to mix even a single ENglish word to her sentence, like the usual I hear around, “eat na,” or “drink na ug water o,” “ali na kay mag sleep na ka.”
So, I guess, the technique went well with my kids. They normally speak English like it’s their first language. Actually, they started to speak Visayan when they went to kindergarten and socialized with their Visayan-speaking classmates.
In February of this year, 2017, my husband’s sisters came home to celebrate the 80th birthday of their mother, my mother-in-law. Each sister brought with her one son, both in early twenties. It’s the first time for my children, now 14, 12 and 10 years old to see their paternal cousins face to face. The day has come. And, as I’ve imagined it 14 years ago, my kids are able to enjoy their moments with their kuyas as they easily converse with them about anything.
I feel accomplished.
with the eldest among 5 paternal cousins
with the second among 5 paternal cousins