by Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini
I just came back from the hospital with my small and beautiful little boy. He was an easy-going newborn who settled himself into a nice routine very quickly. I loved holding him in my arms late at night and absorbing his peace. Blissful, wonderful peace. I felt enormously happy. I felt rewarded, blessed and enriched; but my fortune was not made of money, but of affection and attachment that strengthened and deepened with every day, unconditionally, unremittingly, and peacefully.
It was in this peace of a quietly breathing newborn baby, in a room that smelled of baby shampoo, just after midnight, that I realised that I want to bring up my son as a trilingual child, that the biggest gift my husband and I can give to him is the gift of languages, an opportunity to enter and explore his parents and grandparents' cultures and to draw strength from them.
But there are other reasons too.
That night when I was looking at my son, I saw generations of people in our genealogical lines that came before us. My son wasn't made of me or my husband only... those genes that made him where not ours only. I understood then that my son has already got a heritage, a heritage that he won't be able to understand or access without knowing and understanding the languages that my husband and I speak. Raising him up with one language seemed unfair... both towards him and those people before us.
So here we are, living in multicultural Britain, bringing up a toddler speaking Italian, Polish and English and doing everyday things just as other families do. We are developing our routines and with those routines our toddler is grasping the languages and learns about the world. Many parents tend to get overwhelmed at this stage of their child's development because it's so easy to think that you need to provide additional language input on top of the usual care. To me it's about using language while exercising daily care, while bathing, while potty training, while putting the shoes on and when collecting toys off the floor. The language comes with care and attention. It's not separate from it. It emerges in its context. Being a good and loving parent is what comes first, languages are the attachments.
I feel that time is on our side – every day and every play brings new words and creates new routes of comprehension and it's so important to be aware of this as the whole process of acquiring three languages is very slow. We just try to spend our days well and to have fun. The more delight, the less doubt. For him and for us. That's our recipe for now and we hope it will take our family where we wish to be.
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