In my daughter's preschool class of eleven, there are three students whose parents speak something other than English at home. My daughter, a little boy who speaks Afrikaans, and a little girl who speaks Chinese.
I find this to be a huge advantage for my daughter and her classmates. It brings a sense of normalcy to hearing something other than English come from someone's mouth. There is no fear or paranoia, the kids simply go about their business of play as if nothing were out of the ordinary.
The parents could learn a lesson from their children.
In this hall this afternoon, I was speaking to the Chinese-speaking mother. She is very nice, very enthusiastic. Her English? Not all that great. She speaks rapidly and has a heavy accent. She is intelligible, but one must listen carefully. We talked about getting our girls to play together outside of school.
Enter non-bilingual mom. We joined her in our conversation because both of our daughters have mentioned how much they like playing with her daughter.
Watching this mom listen to the Chinese-speaking mom infuriated me. This was her expression. I took a picture of myself to illustrate.
How do I put this delicately? The mom who spoke Chinese? She isn't stupid, and you aren't deaf. Take care of your facial expressions. They can be hurtful and tell much more of your personality than you care to let on.
When listening, show interest when people speak to you. It is respectful and shows good breeding, or lack thereof in this case.
And finally, to include my daughter in on a future playdate and intentionally exclude the person standing next to you is rude beyond measure.
I hope the Chinese-speaking mom didn't hear the other mom intentionally exclude her daughter. I hope she missed it, but I don't think she did. Bilingual doesn't mean stupid. And she surely isn't blind.
As a parent and decent fucking human being, all I can do is steer my kids clear of this kind of behavior through teaching them to be kind. It is my small way of making the world a better place.
Which means the NATUI clan has a Chinese playdate this week. Ni hao.