family, humor, language, motherhood, parenting

Stumbling blocks on the journey to language

Like many parents I have lofty goals for my child. I want him to be good-hearted, happy, joyous, and free. And to one day buy his mother a waterfront condo overlooking the mountains of Kauai. [Waleed, if you’re reading this years hence, just kidding. Really. Unless you want to. I mean, I wouldn’t say no.] One of my deepest wishes however is to give my child the gift of being multilingual. I’m still in Florida and the effect of hearing Urdu and Punjabi day in and day out [I am accepting my child’s Urdu will be a Punjabi-Urdu Hybrid- I’m okay with hybrid, its better than none at all] is immeasurably beneficial as I hear him trying out sounds and vowels not typical of English but in the tongue I wish to impart.

As much as I’m not a big fan of TV, my mom, who scoops up Waleed when he rises at 6:30am perky as a bunny on red bull, loves starting the morning with him watching a recorded Urdu drama on PTV each morning. [And extra sleep versus making sure little guy doesn’t get TV exposure? Sleep is a selfish beast. And it wins each time].

Their daily ritual made me wonder about the benefits of watching some Urdu-language shows so I sat down at my increasingly rare moment at the computer to see what youtube had to offer in the way of Urdu language cartoons. Most were downright odd like a seemingly possessed girl singing urdu poems or this Tom and Jerry dubbed Punjabi ‘song‘ but then I saw this, a properly rendered cartoon described as a story about a bird and crow with a lesson to boot! [In Hindi- but close enough] So I plucked my son in my lap, turned up the volume to watch this:

It’s a tale about a crow. His house crumbles in a storm. Amidst thundering rain he knocks at his neighbor bird’s door, begging for help. In a minute she says with one excuse after another. All while crow shivers and ducks lightening. Finally, she lets him in and orders him to babysit while she bathes. He does. But he’s hungry. So he eats some kheer cooking on the stove. The bird sees him eat it. She gets mad. She pulls out a burning log. And burns his tail off. The moral of the story: Don’t eat other people’s food. I am not kidding, that’s the lesson. While I know my son will experience the harshness this world has to offer, teaching him via cartoon that most people are only looking out for themselves and don’t enjoy sharing and that its a dogeatdogeatworld are not exactly lessons I want to impart just yet.

My dad and I spent a good ten minutes tonight laughing [against doctor’s orders- whoops] at this old school Cookie Monster sketch asking for a box of cookies at a library [back when Cookie Monster as opposed to carrots ate, well, cookies] and as I looked through more such videos [way more than a grown person without a child in their lap has any business watching with rapt attention] I felt downright nostalgic for the shows of my youth and wished so much my son could perhaps watch some good high quality similar stuff in Urdu with lessons not quite as traumatic as ‘don’t knock on a neighbor’s door when you lose your house in a storm- they got better things to do‘. In Hindi or Urdu, they must be out there. Just need to find it. In the meantime? PTV at grandma’s house where pretty pasty ladies in dramatic falsettos swoon over marriage proposals will just have to do.

What creative methods are you using/plan to use/have used on the path to impart language to your child?

17 thoughts on “Stumbling blocks on the journey to language”

  1. i just watched the chiriya and kavva kahaani, how atrocious!!!!! its a good idea tho…just need to find some good cartoons! in pakistan they dub a lot of the western cartoons…scooby doo, dexter, johnny bravo but not sure if avaiable dubbed!!!

    on another note, i finally finished reading “a fine balance” after first hearing about it on your blog a few weeks back and rushing out to buy it. its made my top book list for sure…i hope you do read it soon!


  2. Tauqeer, thanks will definitely check the first link out, and um, the Tom and Jerry did YOU do that?? LOL I realized just how weak my Punjabi truly is as I did not understand it, but it still made me laugh πŸ™‚

    Julia, thanks πŸ™‚ He is doing much better!

    Bongi, its ridiculous aint it??? Oh yay, glad you like dFine Balance, I have not had much chance to read it since I'm in Florida and didn't take it with me, but I'm worried that its going to be a very very depressing ending- like I'm going to be haunted by the characters. . . thoughts?


  3. I am very, very lucky to be able to speak with George our native language at home, and outside we speak English and German. He seems to understand me in whatever language I speak – I mean the basic things (come here, give it to mummy, stand up). In September he'll start going to the crΓ¨che where he has both native English and German teachers.

    We have books and movies and cartoons in all languages. I am very curious to see which of these will end up being his preferred language.

    Yeah, so basically, our cases could not be more different. πŸ˜‰ As usual, big help am I.


  4. i wish i was bilingual so louise would grown up with more than one language. do you really think waleed would pick up on a lesson like that? i guess they are smarter than we think, you never know.


  5. Kmina, well I still appreciate your perspective even if its a different experience than my own! πŸ™‚ How lucky your child is to have so many different languages to master!

    Kate, I doubt he understood the message at this age but its still a weird weird message! lol πŸ™‚


  6. the book is no doubt depressing, the characters no doubt memorable. but a book isn't worth the trees it's printed on if the characters don't haunt you somewhat i think. i love it when i am dying for the pages to never end, and when it ends, for there to be that book shaped hole in my life and an ache in my heart.

    you're all probably laughing at me, but i just love reading!! and really truly fine books are hard to come by, the kind where the writing just melts off the page into your eyes, that effortless prose, and characters that just engulf you. I read every possible moment i could, when my daughter was playing on the floor for 5 minutes, over breakfast, in the light of my mobile phone at night, most naps and after bedtime (can't always as shattered all the time!!) So yeah…i don't want to hype it too much, but i've read a lot of rubbish lately, so it was refereshing to read a story that is believable, and utterly engrossing. Also….please pick up “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts! You won't regret it!!!


  7. Bongi, I fear my expectations are very very high now, lol πŸ™‚ I love those kind of stories though I do need to read them in moderation- lately with my dad's situation I find myself reading very light books because I don't want to get too bogged down by other things since real life is enough, but once K is done reading I will get it. And Shantaram is definitely on my list! Just another chunker of a book! lol


  8. @Ash: I think it is a big waste of money. US AID should have been directed to better use.

    @Aisha: LOL no I didn't do it! It's done in Indian punjabi, and even I only learnt it youtube way πŸ˜›


  9. lol yes both chunkers of books but i find a good chunker of a book gets read quicker than a short really rubbish book! I also need a break from the depression, i'm reading “Tea time for the traditionally built” No1 Ladies Detective Agency. I haven't read any of his books yet but my husbands read most so i'm tackling his bookshelf now!
    I didn't want to hype up the book too much, like i said, i've been starved of a decent book, and it's written so well. You know some authors just have that ability to write descriptively but not bore the crap out of you, whereas others, you realise you have read 5 pages and you remember nothing of what you read. I had just picked up “The Secret River” by Kate Grenville straight after “A fine balance” and i read two chapters n couldn't tell you anything about it at all, so i switched to Alexander McCall-Smith.
    And yeah….do you have a top five books? Although i know that's near impossible as books need to be divided into Genres, and then have a top list! But maybe top 5 most memorable books? x


  10. Ash! Thanks for officially making my day!!!!! Yay πŸ™‚ Thanks for letting me know.

    Tauqeer, youtube is pretty much limitless in variety isn't it?

    Bongi, you're right- I definitely didn't mind the length of Harry Potter books, and many other great books! Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency is great, I LOVE his 44 Scotland street series- his books are sort of like. . . nothing happens. . . but yet, its a great read. . . its like a nice cup of chai- its weird to describe a book like tea, but that's my take on McCall Smith's writing style. Top five favorite books. Wow that's a tough one- I think that's worthy of its own post- thanks for the food for thought. πŸ™‚


  11. Hehe, yeah i know what you mean but sometimes those books are the best, the kinda nothing happens but you still wanna read it books! Im itching to get back to it, but currently uploading pics to photobox, to make a book or collage or something for fathers day!
    For some reason i can't comment on your blog from my phone any more, so my wind down in bed, baby in sleep, blog commenting has come to an end for now, which is annoying, as i rarely pick up the laptop during the day!


  12. What a great idea to watch cartoons. If I become a mother, I definitely want my children to be bilingual like I am. I love the Spanish language, and I think being able to communicate in more than one language can open up the world to us and give more perspective. Maybe I'll remember your cartoon idea. I'm sure music would work, too. πŸ˜‰


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