Thursday, July 26, 2007

Neti and "NO"

We're at an awkward stage of the language barrier. Neti and Meke understand dozens English words and phrases. However, they don't know how to respond in English. Consequently, to the casual observer it might appear that politeness and obedience are out the window. Nothing illustrates this more than Neti's fixation on the word "No".

Under normal circumstances a 6-year-old has several hundred words to choose from to let Mom and Dad know what's going on in their gray matter. Neti, though, doesn't have that luxury. When Mommy or Daddy ask her to do something and she can't find the proper English response, she has two choices.

Choice #1: Talk with a line of reasoning that makes perfect sense to her but sounds like random string of unintelligible syllables and random chatter to Mommy and Daddy. (This usually results in Daddy smiling and saying "I have no idea what you just said," followed by a repeating of instructions in English.)

Choice #2: Just Say "NO!"

"No" means a lot of things. When Mom says, "Wash your hands, it's time to eat," NO can mean "I will as soon as I go to the bathroom" or "I thought you wanted me to pick up my toys first". It can mean, "I don't like green beans, so please don't put them on my plate" or "Can't we stay up and play a little longer?"

But we're wise to the fact that "no" can also mean, "You're not my boss!" or "Don't tell me what to do!"

So we're faced with paying much more attention to details. We don't want to discipline a child when her "no" means, "I'm hot. I'd rather sleep without a blanket tonight". Neither do we want to give a pass to a verbal act of defiance.


At 10:04 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there - it was recommended to me to have a picture dictionary on hand for this stage. Mine has lots of "action" words, opposites (eg hot/cold), foods, etc. I'm hoping that pointing to pictures will help figure out what's going on. Just a thought. :)

Mind you, Neti is probably going to take a big leap in language soon and amaze you with all the words she knows.

I've really been enjoying your blog, by the way. Thank you for sharing your experiences!

waiting to travel to meet my 4 year old son

At 1:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats gotta be hard. i'm sure you'll look back at this and remember some humerous times with the language barrier...hang in there! :-) jcn

At 8:50 AM , Anonymous Amblin said...

A picture dictionary (as talked about above) is a great way to help with understanding her. You can also make a picture board with common action words, needs, etc. That will go a long way towards helping you both understand each other.


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