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“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis


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Monday, March 4, 2013

COMMUNICATION: A Foreign Language

 Imagine yourself moving to a new country where NOBODY speaks your native language.  Television is in another language. You stare at the news commentator and hear all these foreign sounds coming out, and you do not understand ONE THING he is saying!
You turn on a cartoon to relax and the very same thing happens.
You turn on the radio to listen to music and you hear the tune and the harmony, but you don't understand the words.
(Many of us have experienced this going to another country to adopt)

As time goes on: days, weeks, months, you begin to forget your own native language. You haven't heard it much, and you are concentrating SO HARD to try and figure out this new language; and beginning to catch on with phrases and sounds that you didn't know existed before.

You are even starting to communicate quite well in "conversational language" such as, "Hi, how are you!" "May I go outside?"  "Yes, please pass the potatoes!"  "Thank you"....etc.

But deeper thoughts, thoughts you REALLY need to share, and really wish to convey remain frustratingly locked in your mind, unable to get out because there are no words to express them.
You may begin to feel pent up frustration or rage and feel like you are going crazy!

And then.... it is that moment where you are upset because you can't express your feelings,  you explode with the strongest language you can come up with.  It ISN'T what you really want to say.
So it doesn't make sense and you KNOW it doesn't.
But to save your dignity, not wanting anybody to know that you REALLY DO NOT understand all they think you do,  you stop trying to express what you cannot.

Even in the most caring of homes where parents understand communication issues, it can be so frustrating to try and work through these issues. 

On the parents side of this, they are trying to help you communicate.  They are trying to explain in ENGLISH, and offering more words, explaining each meaning.  The more they try, "in the moment", the more frustrated you get.
And then you just say, "NEVER MIND!"
But parents don't want to hear "Never Mind"....they want to keep on trying to understand.
And then you let the H BOMB go.... "I HATE YOU!"   That is the strongest thing you can say to express your frustration.  And those words pierce the heart of your parent.....even when they know it was said in the "heat of the moment"..... They pierce your heart too.... because you just epically failed!
And you see their pain....
Then you feel shame.  And you don't really know how to express that very well either.

You feel like your parents are dissatisfied with you  all the time because of your "tone"; even though you know they are only trying to HELP you with it.
Maybe they are trying to help too much.... maybe. 
It might be a good idea to remind you how VERY WELL you are doing in most areas of life!
Sometimes parents forget. 

So, you went 3 steps back..... you apologized for your words.... and you both know, that the deeper words for expression are not there yet.
And that is ok.  We can try again another time, a better time....
And then, you pray and reach out to the one who can heal all wounds.
And a little snuggle, that universal understanding of mutual affection that needs no words,  doesn't hurt either. :)


Claire said...

That must be so hard! Especially as English has borrowed so many words from other languages that its rules are all messed up.

I work in a college for adults with learning difficulies (mostly autism) We have been having fun taking pictures of everyone making faces of the same emotion and comparing them.

Lu said...

Great post! It really does take a long time for someone to be able to completely express themselves in English, I know it took me years! I can't even imagine how it must be to loose you native language in the process...

Ohh and I loved the new photos! You all look great ;)

Greetings from Brazil!

Christie M said...

Thank you Lu!

Aus said...

Morning guys - all of that said - even WITHOUT the ESL barrier - how many of us understand our 2, 3 and even 4 year old's language? What are the "terrible 2's and 3's" so terrible? Maybe frustration because - from the child's perspective - "I can't even ask for a drink of water and make.my.parent.understand!!!"

My I offer a suggestion that worked pretty good with our "older" Chinese adoptions - and include the comment that our 5 year old Korean adopted daughter "thought up" the idea?

American Sign Language - ASL. Our 5 year old picked up an ASL DVD at the library called "Baby Signing Time" (there are many on subject specific words) - learned them by watching - taught them to us - and then insisted we take them to China so she could teach her siblings. OK - not so great on the first trip
gross developmental delays) - but GREAT on the 2nd one!

If you are both "learning a new language" together - awesome way to bond - and the increased ability to communicate really lowers the stress level!

Keep aware of your kids "ability to communicate" - in particular in the "serious stuff" - it's what bonding is all about!

hugs - aus and co.

PS - love the new blog header!!

Christie M said...

Aus that is a GREAT idea!
Thank you for contributing ideas!

Annie said...

The other thing that happens, if children cannot continue speaking their native language to someone, is that they lose that language, while not yet knowing a new one - so they can get to a point where they are really not able to communicate in ANY language! I cannot imagine that frustration.

I actually remember seeing that happen a bit with Sergei. There would be some common, but rarely said words (mustache, I remember, was one of them) that he didn't remember in Russian, and hadn't learned in English.

Christie M said...

This definitely happened to Alli and Sarah. Erika we worked really hard to try to help her keep her Russian by listening to Russian. The other girls lost everything because there was no effort made to keep it, and even an effort made to force one of them to not speak it.
Erika eventually refused to speak it. Now she is beginning to be interested again.
We have 2 Russian programs and I really need to MAKE them listen to them more.

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