This weekend, I used Italian as a ‘secret’ language with my daughter for the first time.
We were on our way to celebrate Sinterklaas in Rotterdam, so we took train. After a while, I smelled something familiar. In order not to involve the other travellers in my conversation, I asked my son about his diaper:
“hai fatto la cacca?”. He went: ‘no’. But then my daughter said: “ik denk dat hij misschien…” [“I think maybe he…”]. And before I even knew it, I said: “tell me in Italian”. She looked at me, smiled, and said: “forse ha fatto un scorreggino” [“maybe he farted”]. We giggled about this naughty words in the train.
Even though it was very funny, I also asked myself: “is this OK?”. I obviously don’t mean to teach my children they can use their language to shut people out. On the other hand, we speak languages others don’t understand in many cases for many reasons. Just because it’s practical for example. I decided it would be best not to pay too much attention to it at the time…
We arrived at Rotterdam Central station and walked passed a large publicity display.
My son: “Er was een hele grote koe” [“there was a big cow”]
My daughter: “Hij zegt dat hij een koe ziet, maar het was eigenlijk geen koe, maar een castor.” [“he says he sees a cow, but actually it was a castor.”]
Me: “Een castor? Bedoel je een bever?” [“a castor? you mean a beaver?”]
My daughter: “Yes, a beaver! Isn’t it great we both speak Italian and Dutch? That way, when I don’t know a word in Dutch, I can just try in Italian. That’s how we help eachother!”
Me: “Yes darling, that’s pretty great!”
Let’s hope she thinks we were also just ‘helping eachother’ in the train, earlier that day…