The "outcast" Factor...

As I said in my first story, our daughter grew up with 2 languages right from her birth. We were running a Bed and Breakfast place and accommodated guests from all over the world, so she was exposed to different languages and realized from a young age, that it's an advantage to be bilingual. As soon as Lisa was in Kindergarten, she developed a tendency to use her English more than her German. When I picked her up from there, she informed me about the day's events in English, and even when I reminded her to talk German at home, she would say a few sentences in German and then switch to English again. Often I didn't realize straight away, and fell into the trap, speaking English as well. That was why her father insisted that she spoke only German to him at home. He pretended not to hear or understand her, if she addressed him in English. He made his point and within no time, it was embedded in her brain to talk to him in German.

Since she was 5 years old, we went to Germany every second year for a few months at a time to visit relatives and friends, and to make sure Lisa's German was progressing and improving. I did home schooling with her to keep up with her Australian curriculum, and on the side, her grandmother started reading German children's books with her. The second time over there, when she was 7, she met 3 girls her age in the village, where we stayed, and they became best friends. She became so integrated in the life of those German kids and their friendship was so strong, that they kept in touch with Skype after our return to Australia. At age 9 they met again and during the weeks overseas, I had difficulties to keep Lisa at a tight leash to do all her schoolwork, before she ran off to meet with her pals. She spent a lot of time with her own circle of friends, while we adults did our thing. Last time she was 11 and from the moment we disembarked the plane in Germany, we only spoke German. She went to school in Germany for a few weeks and was very proud to be the best student there, when it came to the subject of English! What a joke!
 
The moment we came back to Australia, she changed like a chameleon back to English and was embarrassed, when I talked in German to her in public .First I was certain, that it was just puberty, which had hit her! But then I realized, that there had to be more to it, when one day she hissed at me: "You make me an outcast!" I was shocked and sure enough I found the answer: Her main objective is to fit in, to avoid standing out of the crowd, to avoid becoming a target for bullying. She had been bullied on the bus, because of her German background! I am glad, she has a strong enough personality to defend herself, but I clearly see, that she wants to be as grey as all the other mice to avoid confrontation. How sad is that?

She has started learning Japanese in Primary School and is really good at it by now, but she threatens to give it up next year. Instead of being encouraged to learn as much at school as possible and pursue the subjects you are brilliant in, bullies get the opportunity and try  to destroy the ambition of others.

You and I would think, we are all aiming for a global world, where international cooperation is being pursued widely, but as a teenager you don't see the big picture. You have enough on your hands to stand up for yourself, when you are being called a 'bloody foreigner'... 

P.S. We still hope to change her mind about the Japanese, but it takes a lot of persuasion to convince her, how ignorant and dumb those bullies are...
IQplusfun IQplusfun
56-60, F
1 Response May 20, 2012

Children are often cruel about anything different. It is a shame. In the long run your child will be far ahead of others with the knowledge of other languages.