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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Thanks Peppa!

Yep, believe it or not, it's thanks to Peppa Pig that I got to change identity. I've become a "Mummy", instead of, or rather as well as being "Mama", which I've been since Leonard started speaking. Now thereby in itself hangs a tail, would you believe. 

Leonard was a relatively late speaker. His sister was anything but, so I now think it probably had nothing to do with his multiple languages, especially as their patterns of starting to speak are both within the normal ranges for monolingual speakers, and I believe reflect the general gender trends of girls often speaking more and sooner than boys. Nevertheless as parents of a first child we were a little nervy about it, and decided at some point, probably entirely nonsensically, that the reason he had not yet said either "Mummy" or "Papa" was connected to the fact that the other parent NEVER used those words. Instead, OPOL oblige, Thomas would refer to me as "Mama" and I to him as "Daddy". So in our worried ruminations we came to the conclusion that he was more likely to gratify us by giving us a name if he only had two rather than four words to deal with. Of course, this was much more to do with our emotional needs as parents than anything as mundane as words and languages. But it gave rise to the decision to call ourselves exclusively "Mama" and "Papa". 

This was not without its challenges, particularly in terms of pronounciation when speaking English, because the German words use vowel sounds which are not used in English. I only realised that I had basically trained myself to use the German pronounciation in the middle of my English sentences when my monolingual English parents came to visit and had huge difficulties trying to say the same thing as Thomas and I. It mostly came out like "Momma" and "Poppa", which to me sounded like fake American accents, so doubly strange/foreign - whereas I was perfectly at home with the German sounds. (I am at least relieved they never tried out the 19th century upper class pronounciation of "Mu-maaah" and "Pu-paah" - although I think that might even amuse me to become a Victorian lady at this stage...)

But anyway, I got used to it and figured that was it. Until for Annabelle (and only for her) I recently morphed into Mummy (as in Mummy Pig), after she had just indulged in a particularly long Peppa Pig binge. I think she even asked me if she could call me Mummy, so I said yes - why not?

So is this wierd, being called one thing by one child and something else by the other one? And even more wierdly, have one using an English word in an English sentence and the other in effect mixing a German word into his otherwise exclusively English talk with me? Not really, like with many things I think I've just got used to used to it. And I still refer to myself as Mama. And that seems to be fine with everybody too.

More to the point, am I worried about the immense influence a two-dimensional (as commented on by Annabelle herself : "Peppa only moves sideways, doesn't she") cartoon pig has on my daughter's language choices and my maternal identity? Go figure.

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