Lost In Translation.

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Gott damnint mommy."
This is what the little man said to me when I walked in the house the other night after a quick pizza run (from Emma's, which seems to have become a Saturday tradition in our home.)
"What did you just say to me?" I sternly asked him.
"Gott damnint," he replied, as my husband began to snicker* in the background.
"Yeah, that's what I thought you said... does someone need their mouth washed out with soap**?"
"NO!!!," he replied.
"Dude, I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to your daddy over there."
Then it was the little man's turn to snicker.

Lately we have a little "problem" that has begun in my household. It dates back about three years when, together, my husband and I decided that we were going to attempt to raise our LM in a bilingual household. My husband is a dual citizen, born in Switzerland, and we figured since my little man would be a citizen of both the US and Swtzerland, than it would be important for him to speak the languages of both countries. We asked a few families that we knew with kids who spoke multiple languages how they were successful, and they gave us a pretty simple answer; just don't ever speak English to him. We figured that was something that we could easily do, and ever since the LM's birth my husband has only spoken Swiss-German to him. Now, around age three, my boy can pretty much understand everything that Dad is saying, and although only answers back in English, the two seem to be able to converse pretty well.

Actually the two are able to converse very well so it seems. See, the problem with this whole bilingual thing is that I don't actually speak the Swiss or the German part, therefore, there is always a side conversation going on behind my back. This was never that problematic because I could usually gauge from the LM's responses what was being said, especially if they were talking about me (the evil smile on both of their faces was a dead giveaway.) Now that the little man is getting older these conversations are getting a little more sophisticated and I find that I am sometimes not quite sure what is being said. Well, it turns out that what is now being said may include a bad word or two that my "boys" wouldn't dare say in English (cue the washing of the mouths with the soap.)

Before the LM was born both my husband and I had what can only be referred to as potty mouth. Actually, we still have potty mouths, but we can usually contain them between the hours of 8am and 8 pm. Every so often an expletive or two will slip out, but they generally go unnoticed by my parrot of a child. Or at least that used to be the case. Now he will pick up on a word that I or someone else said and he will then say it ALL THE TIME. (The most recent was stupid, pronounced st-OOO-ped by my little man.) While I think it is important to keep his language "toddler appropriate" my husband does not quite share in the concept quite so fervently. Sure, he would never allow him to say the "real" bad words, but things like dammit, stupid, crap... well lets just say he doesn't see them as such a crime. (He also doesn't have to face the director of the school when my LM decides to teach everyone a new word (no, that has never happened. yes, it is one of my greatest fears that it will.))

Long story, long, after months of nagging it seems as though the two of them have found an end run around mommy. I think they believe if they can keep it in their language than no one will be the wiser. The only problem is that A LOT of the words in German (especially the bad ones) sound an awful lot like the ones in English, so either these boys need to get a lot more creative, or I'm going to need to start getting my dish soap at Costco.

Note to self, learn to speak their language... like YESTERDAY.

* I have to say I can't believe that I actually threaten this... that is such a "Mom" thing to say.

** Before I get a few dozen anonymous emails discussing what terrible parents we are, 1) I think my husband thought it was funny, 2) he would never teach him anything too bad, 3) I too think it's a little funny or I wouldn't have written about it here, and 4) You have to laugh at these things... otherwise the kids will drive you crazy!


Julie Q said...

oh man, this post is hilarious!!! your household sounds way too smart for me though, I'd have to wait outside in the hallway with my 1.2 languages. (7 years of french and I only count knowing 2% of it) tehehehe

The Missus said...

I will totally teach my kids the main bad words. I will also teach them when not to use it. But I am a potty mouth for life. I love the swear words. You guys are KICK ASS parents!

Mira said...

That is too funny. Reminds me of the time my husband came home from work to see the new pram being built in the lounge room, in prep for our third baby. He walked through the door and exclaimed "What's that!" to which my biggest man (age 3 at the time) shouted "It's a new friggin' pram Daddy". If looks could kill. Glad I'm not the only 'bad mum' around lol.

Jodi said...

That is fantastic that he understands german swiss. I think I heard dylan say shit the other day he doesn't know what it means or that it is bad yet. He learned it from me. My dh would be the one who drops f bombs ugh. I draw the line at the N word yes my dh is that tacky to say that word in front of my children who have very loving black caretakers whom i do NOT want the repeated to double ugh!!!

Victoria @ Hibiscus Bloem said...

My mum did stuff a bar of soap in my mouth when I was about 3, after I said the F word. I like to remind my son of this when a bad words slips out. We've had to learn the worst of the dutch language to keep tabs on what may come out of his angelic little mouth as he gets older!!! Good luck with the Swiss German!

Carly Yeganeh said...

haha this is so funny.

My husband speaks Farsi to my 16 month old and I speak English so hoping she will learn both. I obviously need to keep learning or I will also be int his situation :) xx

joan said...

Yes, you have to laugh at these things!

Kajays Mom said...

That is great that you can laugh about it. I think I need to try yoga :). I go crazy when I think my husband "undermines" me when we have decided something about the kids. Thankfully we both see eye to eye about swearing but a few other issues we stuggle to reach a compromise. Good for you too that you can tolerate being odd man out. You seem so laid back about the whole thing - I could use a whole more of that :)!