Otosan, please teach us your language.

Rei-and-Senji-2Jaimie Scanlon,
Brattleboro, VT.

My husband is bilingual Japanese-American. His mother, raising three boys in Iowa in the 1960s, made sure her sons grew up speaking, reading, and writing her own mother tongue. Now all three men are completely bilingual and realize the value of the gift she gave them. Before our kids were born (now ages 9 and 3), we had the best intentions of raising them bilingually, my husband speaking to them in Japanese and I in English. We thought it would be easy. After all, my husband’s mom had done it. Early home videos show my husband speaking and singing to my daughter in Japanese. But somewhere along the way, it got lost. Two busy working parents, with kids in full-time daycare/school (in English), a lack of opportunities to expose them to much Japanese (in Vermont)… We fell into using only English in our home when my daughter was 4 or 5. I want to speak on behalf my children and ask their father not to withhold the precious gift he holds the power to bestow upon them.

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