J2 Content – Perspectives

A varied collection of thoughts on education and parenting

My Son, The Magic 8-Ball

I’m sometimes a bit sad that we missed all of our son’s “firsts”; you know, first step, first tooth, all that. We picked up our son from China two days before his 2nd birthday, which meant we were just in time for the “terrible twos”, so we had that going for us. But even having missed those first years, I have learned a lot about parenthood in the nearly three years he’s been with us, during which time he’s been assimilating to American culture and attempting to fight our dogs to the death.

What’s been most interesting to me is watching him learn English. For the longest time, he almost seemed to refuse to put any effort into learning our language at all, preferring to point and scream (as you might see any American tourist do in a non-English-speaking country.) But then one day, it was like a switch was flipped and he went from single words, to short phrases, and then he suddenly was speaking full sentences, and I was left wondering who the heck this strange chattering creature was who’d apparently replaced my son in the middle of the night.

My son will be five later this month, and with his burgeoning language skills I’ve discovered lately that having a kid this age is kind of like having an oracle around the house. Any question you might have, he has an answer for you. Unless, of course, that question is, “have you brushed your teeth?”

Feeling guilty about something you’ve done?

“No bedtime stories for you.”

Wondering how to end that first date?


Doctor trying to prescribe you a suppository instead of oral medications?

“I’ve got a penguin in my bum.”

Sex and reproduction education?

“I’m going to drink a lot of water and then my baby will come out.”

Feeling under the weather?

“I’ll get my screwdriver and fix you up!”

And. Um. I have no idea:

“I eat my eye. Boop boop. And my mouth. Um. Mummy? Some spaceships have good guys and some spaceships have bad guys, right? I’ve got strawberry teeth. I am a bad guy.”

He’s admittedly still behind the average five-year-old in language skills, but he continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and it’s amazing that one day you realize you’ve been having a real conversation with this kid that doesn’t involve screeching or hitting stuff. Our guides told us that the babbling he appeared to do as we wheeled or carried him unwillingly around the sights in China was just that: babbling. He really didn’t speak any Chinese before we brought him home, so to me this makes his language skills all the more impressive.

I’ll leave you with this final thought: if teaching your Chinese-American son to say “What’s-ah happenin’, hot-stuff?” is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Tags: - - -

Leave a Reply

© 2023 J2 Content. All Rights Reserved.