Monday, 25 August 2014

Max at 5

They say that you are more lacks with your second kid. I'd say it's both true and not true. When Suzanne was learning to speak and developing her bilingual-ness, I posted regularly. I feel like Max has slipped through the cracks. Of course, one kid is less work than two so I'll cut myself some slack.

On that note, Max turned 5. I had some tough times with Max's language acquisition : he was slower to speak than his sister, when he did speak it was mostly in French, he would speak French as the community language in the US and UK. But one thing Max has always been meticulous, precise and very funny little person.

Where Suzanne was always comfortable with English and communicated at any cost, mixing words, making up words...Max is Max. When he speaks English, he speaks English. French is French, with only some exceptions. If he doesn't know how to say something, he either finds a different way or says he needs to tell me a secret. It's not that he's ashamed of not knowing, but he wants it to be perfect. This personality trait carries through to everything he does : he likes numbers, is obsessed with superheroes and knows everything about them and is a whiz at legos. For his birthday, we got him legos for 7-14 year olds; he put the vehicles together almost alone, using the booklet. He calls himself a "master builder" like in the Lego Movie.

His meticulous, almost engineer like thinking crosses over into his communication; he wants to understand why and how. He makes very few language mistakes, but sometimes mixes up his grammar in both languages. Despite his precision, he has an accent. Whereas Suzanne mostly sounds like a mini version of me (light East Coast American accent), Max sounds a little French, a little Germanic and a little American. None of that seems to keep him from speaking. He's been called a piplette (a nice way to say he never stops talking) by many.

Suzanne, now 8 years old, continues to speak to him mostly in English except when they've spent time together in an all French environment like school or at the grandparents'. English continues to be more present in the house than French and we still do not stray from OPOL.

Reading though has become less and less present which is a weakness. Suzanne's vocabulary and syntax were great because I read to her so much. But with the past couple years being rather nuts (with my cookie business, my english classes and my steady job), reading has become less important. On the other hand, we still have an English speaking babysitter once a week which helps reinforce that English isn't only limited to Mom and her family and friends.

Recent Max-isms include he and his sister fighting over whether it's called mozzarella or mozzarelle. He also recently invented a new French word: bicyclable, a fairly obvious term in French to mean the bike lanes (ie piste cyclable).

My kids' bilingualism continues to astound me. But even if they weren't bilingual, they'd still be these amazingly smart, intelligent and sensitive little people whom I love with all my heart.

Happy birthday Max !

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