Why is that when someone, usually someone who doesn't know you that well (or really at all for that matter), prefaces a statement with "I don't mean to offend you but..." they usually succeed in doing the very thing that they told you they're not going to do? Serenity now!
So here’s the setup: at a kid’s birthday party, I strike up a conversation with one of the other parents about pre-school…
OtherParent: “How many days a week does your daughter go to the other pre-school?”
Me: “Well, she goes to [the Japanese language] pre-school two days a week and she goes to [the bilingual Montessori] pre-school two days a week.”
Without missing a beat, OtherParent says: “I don’t mean to offend you but…”
What OtherParent proceeded to tell me (in about the most directive way possible) was that the decision to have our daughter attend two different schools was, well, wrong. Talk about a conversation stopper. I decided to take the bait anyway and rolled with the resistance. “What do you mean by that?” I asked (suppressing the urge to raise my voice).
OtherParent’s point was two-fold: (1) that it’s too confusing to have my child learn two different languages at the same time (too bad, she’s learning three since I also speak Spanish); (2) that OtherParent would feel badly about my daughter losing the ability to speak with my wife’s parents (wait, what about my Korean-speaking parents!?).
Much like my initial response to Alexandra Wallace’s “so we know I'm not the most politically correct person, so don't take this offensively…” YouTube video, I was pissed off. But you know? That anger has given way to firm resolve (I mean, don’t look back in anger, right?)
First, OtherParent was wrong. Bilingualism is, in fact, good for the brain. Research shows that speaking more than one language helps with multi-tasking, prioritizing information in potentially confusing situations, and helps ward off early symptoms of Alzheimer’s in the elderly. Not to mention, that bilingualism helps me communicate with my daughter because her Japanese got chotto better than mine after she turned two (sugoi ne).
Second, in any language, my in-laws and my own parents are good people. Yes, I was forced to go to Korean school (even though I would have preferred to fill my pie hole with sugary breakfast cereals while killing brain cells watching cartoons) on Saturday mornings, but I was also instructed repeatedly as a child to be an “All-American” boy (and given the freedom to figure out what that means on my own). Time has either made my parents soft or time has made my parents realize that there isn’t a whole lot of time (left). So for what does that leave time? Simply put, time for agape.
So where do we go from here? Well, my daughter is going to stay at her two different pre-schools because frankly, she digs it and she learns different skills at both schools. And besides, as my hero, Phil Dunphy from Modern Family, said:
"We like to think we’re so smart, that we have all the answers. And we want to pass that on to our children. But if you scratch beneath the surface, you won’t have to dig deep to find the kid you were, which is why it’s kind of crazy that we’re raising kids of our own. I guess that’s the real circle of life. Your parents faked their way through it. You fake your way through it. And you just hope you didn’t raise a serial killer."
Amen and thanks for the opportunity to post my (virgin) musings with you, my Rice Daddies brethren.