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Cee aitch eye en eh and Justice

No, OmegaMom is not about to go on a rant about civil rights violations.

OmegaDotter, having reached the mature age of five, has suddenly evincined an interest in Mandarin.  And China in general.  And Justice--as viewed by a five-year-old.

We purchased the Follow Jade and MeiMei's Play and Learn Chinese videos a long time ago.  The dotter has watched them off and on for years and recited, by rote, some of the songs and words.  But a few weeks ago, it was as if a light bulb went off in her head:  This is another language!  You can say things this way, and it means that!

She hears the words better than OmegaDad and I, and can sing the songs all the way through now.  She hears the tones, and corrects OmegaDad all the time (not to pat myself on the back, but I can hear those tones, too, and can imitate them halfway decently).  And she delights in saying "peee-goo!" and giggling wildly, just like she likes to say "butt" and "fart" and "booger" and other things that her dad just eggs on.

She decided she wanted to learn to spell "China".  Having learned it, she went off to her coloring tools, and drew this, all by herself:

She went to bed with a fancy computer printout of the word, hung it on the wall next to her little bed, and as she was drifting off to sleep, she was muttering, "Cee...aitch...eye...en...eh."

(I use "eh", because the conventional "aye" is always pronounced, by me at least, as "eye".)

When we encountered Janet, one of the moms at the dance studio, OmegaDotter (being delightfully free of the social constraints that had kept me from asking the same question) asked her, "Are you Chinese?"  No; it turns out that Janet was adopted from Korea.

The dotter is thrilled to be going to the FCC Chinese New Year celebration in a few weeks.

So "cee aitch eye en eh" has become quite important to her all of a sudden.

Then there's "justice".  The dotter has not quite grasped that her wishes aren't paramount, and she's connected that particular (not very pleasant aspect) of childhood with "right" and "wrong" and "not nice". 

So...for example...she wants to play at "camping" in the living room.  This requires the light to be turned off.  At the same time, OmegaDad wants the light on so he can see while he's cooking.  OmegaDad informs the dotter that he has to turn the light on.

Oh, NO!  Tragedy!  Misery!  Oh, the injustice of it all!  Y'see, she had been "camping" before Daddy wanted to cook.  She was first.  It's not nice of Daddy to turn the light on.

Or, she has been whiny.  Mommy or Daddy snaps at her.  (Not nice, I know.)  This translates into injustice.  And we get a tearful lecture about how not nice we are being, and how it's not fair.  Complete with a pout and a flounce and a stomped foot.

So now we have to work on her learning to view the household as a commons; things that need to get done must get done, whether they inconvenience her or not.  And the black-and-white world of fair/not-fair, right/wrong will have to encompass the reality of the world:  if you're whiny and bitchy to other people, they will usually end up being bitchy right back at you.  The Golden Rule, as it were, reversed.  I try to always ask her, "Would you like it if I did x to you?"

(This has worked a bit for me with whiny or bossy tones; now, if we are alone and she starts on whining or bossiness, I can say, "Tone!" and she usually stops.  Does this work with Daddy?  Oh, no.  Why?  Because he is a spineless jellyfish where she is concerned.  I love him dearly, but.  But, but, but.  She can make a frustrated "Nngggghh!" and he will come running.  I, on the other hand, being a Mean Mommy, won't budge.  There's an awful lot less "Nngggghh"-ing when Daddy is out in the field, and Mommy is playing at being a Single Mom.  Just sayin'.)

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posted by Kate @ 1/29/2007 07:26:00 PM  
  • At 1/30/2007 12:03:00 PM, Blogger Julie Pippert said…

    That's the division of parental labor here, too. My weakness is: do they feel loved? Which, believe it or not, allows me easily to discipline and be "Mean Mommy." My husband's weakness is: are they happy. With predictable results. ;)

    Her drawing is awesome!

  • At 1/30/2007 03:37:00 PM, Blogger SBird said…

    Love the drawing!

    I even love the sense of injustice. She's on par with a number of dualistic-thinking college students I know!

  • At 1/30/2007 05:51:00 PM, Blogger MomEtc. said…

    Anna is addicted to the Mei Mei tapes. We love them, too, but she literally wakes up asking for "Mei Mei". She loves saying the words and singing the songs. We're picking up so much too.

    LOL at "peeee-gu".

  • At 2/03/2007 10:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If she wants to learn mandarin now that's a really good thing. We moved to China this summer and learning mandarin as an adult has lead to many comical interactions. My six year old who takes mandarin at his school corrects my pronunciation all the time. If I see any good products for kids' mandarin instruction at the foreign language bookstore I will pm you.

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About Me
Name: OmegaMom
Home: Southwest
About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 4-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.
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