Friday, September 22, 2006

Language Learning 101

It's remarkable to me the way that Clara Anne is learning language. Just in the past few weeks, we've seen her vocabulary explode as she imitates words that we are saying, says words that we prompt her to say, and also comes up with her own commentary on life events. She is getting better with saying "Please" and "Thank You" but since she cannot yet say "thank you" in English, she substitutes the word in the local language, (xiexie) which sounds something like "shee-eh shee-eh." She can now say short prayers by herself with only minimal prompting from me--her favorite part is to list off the names of people that she wants God to bless.

One specific area that we've been working with her on is apologizing when she's done wrong. It usually goes something like this: after she's been disciplined, she has to look me in the eye and say "Mama, Sorry. I disobeyed. Please forgive me." Usually it sounds something like this. "Mama...warry...bay..." Unfortunately, it seems like Clara Anne has so many opportunities to practice this that she is getting pretty good at this routine. But the other night when another opportunity presented itself, we tried to see if Clara Anne could remember everything that she should say, all by herself. John was holding her as she tearfully said, "Daddy...warry...bay...(long pause)...xiexie." That's pretty good, Clara Anne. I guess she was assuming that we were going to forgive her and just decided to thank us instead.

Speaking of making apologies, we were at a friend's house the other day and Clara Anne had been put down for a nap. She had napped at their house before on a big person's bed and all had gone well. At home she still sleeps in a crib so occasionally she wakes up and plays quietly before we come to get her out. However, this time when Clara Anne was finished sleeping she very quietly found a pen on the bedside table and began to draw on some paper she found nearby, and then her hand, her face, her arm, her leg, and then she got more enthusiastic and scribbled on the sheets. At this point our friend heard her, went in to investigate and saw the evidence of Clara's misdeeds. Oh dear! Needless to say, Clara Anne was disciplined for this, and then we took her to our friend to apologize. Clara was very tearful and most of her words were mangled, but she said what she needed to and received forgiveness.

The most surpising part of that incident to me was my response--I cried! This was the first time that Clara Anne had sinned so directly against someone else (other than us as her parents); it tore at my heart to know that she was guilty and to hear her have to apologize. But it was good for her soul to do so. I hope that was a lesson not just in language learning, but also in learning to be a big girl who is more responsible and trustworthy in the future. Thankfully, there is grace! We'll give you another chance, Clara Anne!

No comments: