My attempts to bring up Number One Son bilingually are naturally hampered by his natural slower pace of speech development. I have for a long time repeated his strongest English words in order to encourage him repeating them after me although I continue to speak in Finnish most time. This flies against all advice I have been given but I feel that I must help my son to communicate in the language he clearly has chosen for himself. He shows few signs of repeating Finnish words – how different it is with English when he repeats happily different colours, counts to eight or so and name many of the most usual animals. However, after a Finnish school session with an access to other Finnish speakers he tends to say ‘Hei’ instead of ‘Hay’. Sadly, the kids speak English with each other so this improvement is down to the activities of the adult preschool group leader.
Happily, Number One Son has slowly started to tie two words together. His early attempt was ‘This route!’ on the way to the nursery. Sadly, the late intensification of tying two words together has come in the form of ‘Go away!’ said loudly to me so that Number One Son can continue playing with daddy without his mother interrupting the idyllic scenes. I was not a very good player as a child myself so it is not a great suprise that clearly his daddy is much more fun. I am also the ‘bad cop’ parent who is firmer and louder denying Number One Son from having his own way.
Even if Number One Son does not say any other Finnish words than a loud ‘Ei!’ (no to any English speaking readers), he seems to understand his second language well. His English ‘No’ to anything he does not want to do is very firm and clear. He also likes to view Lion king in Finnish and pronounces Rory [the racing car] in a way that is half-way between Rory and his Finnish name-sake Lauri. I am soon heading to Finland and one of the tasks is to buy more classic Disney and Pixar movies in order to give him plenty to watch in his second language. Even if the speech therapists emphasize that children should watch as little television as possible, our early bird needs something to watch at 6am when his mother and father are not properly wake, yet!