I know I’m all RAH RAH about making my kids speak Chinese all their applicable waking hours. Shoot, I even wrote a book on the subject (affiliate link). And after the thousands of words I’ve written about my kids and our learning Chinese endeavors, etc. ad nauseam, my children still prefer to speak English.
In fact, they would speak English all day if I let them.
The constant refrains at my house are, “說中文!” (shuo zhong wen2/Speak Chinese!) or “聽不懂!” (ting bu2 dong3/I don’t understand!)
And then, sometimes in moments of exasperation, I threaten ridiculous things such as taking away all their toys, forcing them to only watch Chinese YouTube, or taking away all English screen time.
I have even threatened them to not be able to play with each other (since all they speak is English – EVEN TO THE BABY).
It drives me up the wall.
I am exasperated and frustrated and feel like a failure and a hypocrite.
In my moments of angst, I see all the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on Chinese swirling to the bottom of the toilet as it flushes into the sewage system.
And then, if I happen to be on Facebook, I will catch glimpses of other bilingual mothers posting pics or videos or posts about their awesome kids reading super hard/advanced Chinese books and I’m like, CRAP ON A STICK.
Now, keep in mind, I LIVE on Facebook. I understand that what happens on Facebook is heavily curated, capturing only the best (or most comically horrible) moments in a life. After all, I am a Master Facebooker (though a bit more TMI than most).
So I GET IT. Facebook is not Reality.
But sometimes, just sometimes, I see these flashes of other brilliantly bilingual kids and instead of seeing them as inspiration or future possible versions of my children in some ideal world, I instead see judgment, failure, and an impossible obstacle.
After all, I am sooooooo lazy. And my Chinese, though pretty good, is going to be tapping out. Soon. Like, REALLY SOON.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH ALL THESE HIGHER LEVEL CHINESE BOOKS IN MY HOUSE???
Here’s the thing.
It doesn’t matter how good the other kids’ Chinese are.
In fact, short of having actual conversations with these children (assuming your Chinese is good and advanced enough to do this), you really will never know their “true” level – which, incidentally, is meaningless and likely fluctuates on a given day and subject matter.
What you are seeing on the internet is just a slice of time. A teeny, tiny, fractional instant of a REALLY REALLY REALLY long day.
Chinese is not mastered in a day. Or even a week.
So don’t worry. Chill out.
Get off of Facebook. Get off my blog (although, do buy my book) and be happy with what you’ve managed to accomplish.
Whatever you are doing (or not doing) will not doom your child forever to a life of sad monolingualism (is that even a word?). Life is long and unexpected; the time to learn Chinese is both too short and a lifetime’s worth.
You are NOT a failure.
Your children are perfect.
It will be ok.