Friday, 27 January 2012

Going away

Just before going away my husband tells me that he needs an urgent appointment with an optician to get a problem seen to that's been bothering him for about a week now - that's news to me, he's never mentioned anything previously.

Well, tomorrow we go to visit my cousin for the weekend and he wants an appointment first thing in the morning so he calls me from work to get me to phone around for him.  There I was trying to settle the baby and at the same time phoning around the three opticians we have in the town only to no avail and now I have a screaming baby attached to my hip!

I call him back to let him know that all the opticians in town do not have any appointments for tomorrow at any time whatsoever.

Finally I can get down to feeding my hungry daughter.  Whilst she was happily guzzling down her milk the phone rings again and lo and behold, my darling husband is on at me once more.  I couldn't pick up the phone so he left a message on the answerphone telling me to get an appointment for this afternoon and he'll finish work early.  Now the message is on the answerphone, it keeps beeping telling me that it needs to be listened to - very annoying sound.

Finally, my gorgeous girl has finished her bottle and is happily dozing off when again the phone rings.  I bet it's hubby again!  This time, luckily he doesn't leave a message but my baby has opened her eyes and I'm worried she will not settle back and wake up for good.  She doesn't sleep well at the best of times.  I carry her off upstairs and every now and then she will have a look around to see where she is.  I put her into her cot and go to close the curtains, she is watching me and I hope that she will close her eyes again.  I turn her onto her side (her favourite position), she closes her eyes and I quietly leave the room.

Once again, I telephone all the opticians to double check if any appointments are available for this afternoon and as I previously thought, there are none available.  I call hubby back at work to report back to him and he says he too has already telephoned them because he thought I was out!  Now that was a waste of time for me!!  I suggest maybe we could call the opticians in Watford where we will be tomorrow and he leaves me to it.

I Googled Specsavers in Watford, got their number and thankfully made an appointment for tomorrow afternoon, a few hours after arriving at my cousins house.  The bonus is that the sight test is on offer at the moment at £7.50.  I once again call hubby back to tell him the good news and he is happy with the result and the bargain too! Phew!!!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The trouble with teaching my children Cantonese

Coming from a Cantonese speaking family I hope that one day my children will be able to speak it well enough to converse freely with my parents, their grandparents.  I was brought up speaking Cantonese and never spoke a word of English until I went to school.  I like to think that I am fairly fluent in the language; I know enough of it to be able to get about in Hong Kong and translate for my parents.  I enjoy Chinese television and music but being married to an Englishman it has been difficult trying to provide all the Chinese exposure to my children to the same extent as I have received them when growing up in England.

When my eldest was born I made a conscious effort to speak to her in Cantonese and she did understand what I said but, unfortunately, was reluctant to speak it back to me.  She was however able to understand what I was saying and responded in English.  As she got older her understanding of the language became increasingly limited, especially when she started attending nursery more often (her increased time there being as a result of me having to go back to work full time out of necessity rather than choice).  She cannot understand many of the things I say to her now and she is shy when I ask her to repeat things in Cantonese.  

As the years rolled on I continued to set aside some time to teach her using flash cards that my parents had bought from Hong Kong (the problem with these is that they had Mandarin pinyin, not Cantonese).  Unfortunately, she was showing a distinct lack of interest in learning the language.

I would like her to be around my parents more often but only I can travel to go and visit them, they cannot travel to come and stay with me which means I do not see them as often as I would like.  My mum has no understanding of the English language despite having been in this country for almost 40 years and my dad's competence in this respect seems to be getting worse with age!

Now she doesn't know any of the Cantonese I speak and whenever I visit my parents I have to translate everything for both sides.  She does, however, know how to address my parents and my brother in Cantonese, albeit her pronunciation is a bit off.  I am also happy that she does have a favourite Chinese song.  I make a point of only listening to Chinese music in my car and it has paid some dividends.

Now that my 2nd daughter has come along, I always speak to her in Cantonese and at times my older daughter shows some interest and asks what I am saying.  In time I hope that she will be able to pick up what she has lost and that both my girls will be able to appreciate the Chinese half of their heritage.