Universal Language | Toddling Through the Silicon Valley | Cheryl Bac | Palo Alto Online |


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By Cheryl Bac

Universal Language

Uploaded: Aug 23, 2014

I am only fluent in English, however, my husband speaks multiple languages. Throughout our relationship, he's translated for me when we interact with his relatives and friends who speak little to no English (or who just feel more comfortable speaking their native tongue during a casual Saturday night dinner).

When we first started dating, I did not enjoy many of these outings. Hearing summaries of jokes and witty comments is not ideal. And, I didn't have a smartphone at the time, so there was no easy way to distract myself or app to help me translate.

Last weekend my husband's aunt was in town. She flew across the world on vacation and hoped to see us when she was touring San Francisco.

I was not especially excited about hosting dinner. Not only was there a language barrier but I was also very pregnant.

As the evening progressed, however, I was pleasantly surprised at how our son helped us bridge the language gap. We all enjoyed watching him play with his trains, put together a puzzle and stack his blocks. All of us laughed when he ran around the room with a burst of toddler energy.

And during dinner, my husband could spend the majority of the evening catching up with his aunt (rather than worry about filling me in on all of the details of the conversation). I had my own dining companion - our son. He was beyond thrilled to get my almost undivided attention during dinner (I think he was expecting for me to more equally split my attention between him, my husband and our guest).

I'm sure more translated dinners will be coming my way. I am now looking forward to using these occasions as special opportunities to give my son (and his younger brother or sister) a little extra attention.