Thursday, 27 October 2011

Bringing up bilingually

It is clear that trying to bring up a child bilingually is harder than one imagines. Especially, when the Archaeologist Husband has only learnt to say ‘Hello’ in the minority language that is my mother tongue Finnish. To make things harder, it is not an Indo-European language and is spoken only by a handful of persons in our area as their first language. You only hear Finnish on TV about once in two years when there has been a horrible accident or event in Finland and you hear a police or ambulance driver uttering a sentence in the background or Sheldon wants to learn an obscure language in the Big Bang Theory.

English is everywhere and DVDs have different languages on totally randomly. Our selection of DVDs bought in UK includes DVDs with audios in Hindi or French or English only or all Scandinavian languages and German. One could watch Pikku Kakkonen children programmes over the Internet but we disconnected our old PC from our TV when we turned our living room furniture around to maximize the effects of heating. No matter how much I try to talk in Finnish I cannot keep chatting over Alex’s favourite film or be in the nursery on his nursery days.

The example of the other Anglo-Finnish children is that the children choose what they want to speak. In the Finnish Saturday School the children tend to speak in English with each other and flatly answer in English to their parents’ or mother’s (since it is mainly women who marry to UK) Finnish questions. It looks like it will be an uphill struggle when even the older children of the Finnish parents translate their parents’ Finnish to the younger children… Thus, I can only give an opportunity to learn a very difficult language from birth and hope that he will like to have a ‘secret’ tongue when he will be slightly older.

Suomenkielinen blogi Kaksikielistä kakkua

Friday, 21 October 2011

Royal BC Museum

A visit to Victoria is not complete without a visit to the Royal British Columbia Museum. Archaeologist Husband’s Aunt was kind enough to drive us to the harbour area next to the Museum so we had a free afternoon for ourselves. This is a very enjoyable museum and we spent hours there. Naturally, for a long while Number One Son took his default museum position and had a good snooze in his stroller.

The museum had quite a splendid Behind the Scenes exhibition in which all different collections at the natural history department are introduced. The exhibition did not only show which insects or mammal specimens there are but it described the local habitat and explained how different researchers use the collections and why these collections are important. This dimension – what use the collections actually have beyond their basic preservation function – is so often not apparent in the museums but here it was crystal clear. The displays also presented curators as persons with their own specialities and interests. Number One Son performed his favourite museum act and ran around the exhibits. He was just too short and not tall enough to see the selection of live creepy crawlers on display. However, he enjoyed some of the children’s activities. This is truly an inclusive museum for all to enjoy.

Of the more adult offerings I enjoyed the street scenes in the modern history gallery. Different structures presented the different industries in British Columbia, among them mining, salmon fisheries and logging. The most memorable section without doubt was a reconstruction of streets with little shops and other establishments that showed how the town life was in Victoria during the 19th century. These also displayed the versatile collections of the museum.

Museum also has a large section describing the history of the First Peoples. Luckily, Number One Son was blissfully asleep throughout this section so we could properly find out how these peoples were wiped out by the western diseases. It is tragic how their villages with their totem poles were left deserted. All those empty villages for Emily Carr to paint.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Spiders and star fish on Victoria Island

Earlier this year we finally made it to Canada to see Number One Son’s Greatgrandmother. Although the cost was considerably higher than with the originally planned date before our Son turned two, him having a seat of his own was heaven sent. The idea to try to make him to sit on our lap in turns for hours (eleven to be precise) still makes me shiver. He was already quite big and heavy and on the inward flight he was rather unsettled. Luckily, the return flight was overnight so he was sleeping as if it had been a normal night.

For me the memories of the whole trip are a bit hazy because of Number One Son’s jetlag and his habit to wake up at 2am and stay up for hours. Nevertheless, I really liked Victoria Island and hope we one day have enough money to visit the island, Vancouver and the area properly. After all, Victoria is the capital of British Columbia with a theatre, museums and universities. The landscape is vaguely familiar to a northern European with dark green forests and grey bedrock.

Since Archaeologist Husband’s Cousin has a day nursery, it was natural that we visited a few toddler friendly places. Number One Son may have a limited attention span but even he enjoyed the creepy crawlies in the Victoria Bug Zoo and he was curious about all those petting star fish in the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney. For a short while in the Bug Zoo he got excited about spiders and grasshoppers but then the buzz and the crowds of the local half term became too much and he lost interest. In the Ocean Discovery Centre the sea life puzzle with a magnetic fishing rod was the highlight of his day. It was a shrewd move from the owners of the centre to put this puzzle on display since we were not the only ones who left with one from their Discovery Centre shop...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Child’s play at the playground

The playground time is the most intriguing part of child rearing. On a grey day there seems to be absolutely no one else there at the playground and you follow your toddler around the emptiness out of duty. Unless your toddler is learning new skills, is trying to make continuous escapes through the gates to the drive through road or you have something interesting to think, this can be extremely tedious. Some of the other mothers on the playground have happily admitted how boring they find this whole business. You know that it is good for your child and they have to get fresh air and run freely but it can be mindbogglingly boring on those grey days when your toddler just wants to revisit the helter skelter again – and again.

On a sunny day, especially just after the end of the school day the playground and the park may be heaving. If there are any other children from the nursery, they normally giggle together or hug each other and then Number One Son and his best friends run amok. There are a series of regular mothers with whom I tend to chat about our common experiences. Often we compare notes on the local play groups or Children’s Centre activities. With some I tend to cover a more varied selection of topics ranging from politics to vegetarianism. Sadly, unless my friend who took part into solstice festivals at Stonehenge is present, we do not discuss archaeology.

Unlike the common perception, there seem to be quite a lot fathers on our playground. Is it the current economic situation or are the hands-on fathers like Archaeologist Husband more common than realized? I think the reasons are as many as are the childcare solutions. Many toddlers come to the park with their grandparents.