My husband and I often speak English with one another. In fact, we speak English with one another most of the time. It comes naturally since that was the language we spoke when we met 16 years ago on the Emerald Isle of Ireland, in Mary Ryan's Hostel in Galway. Wow, 16 years!!
I didn't speak a word of German at the time and my future husband was in Ireland to speak English - so it all worked out well. Of course, he wasn't looking for a future American wife and I wasn't looking for a future German husband. We were there to meet the Irish! Not other foreigners!
Well, be it as it may, we fell in love and I ended up taking a leave of absence from my studies to spend two years in Germany with my future husband where we finally tied the knot and moved to Seattle, Washington.
While in Germany I spent grueling hours at the Volkshochschule followed by even more grueling hours at the university in Kiel learning German. Textwiedergabe - I remember that word clearly and it can still bring dread up my spine and fear into my heart. The ultimate of torture touted as "learning German." Ugh, I can still remember sitting there with my pencil poised for the moment of truth.
That coupled with trying to pronounce the letters ä, ö and ü while a kind-hearted teacher squishes your mouth into place was enough to make me want to fall to the floor and plead for mercy. "Try saying "eee" while rounding your lips like this," the teacher would say. "Ok, yea, I get it but now how do I remember all of that while trying to use that sound in the middle of a word which is in the middle of a sentence!?" would be my exasperated reply.
In any case, tonight my 6-year-old son heard my husband and I speaking English with one another and promptly said to us (in German), "Why are us kids supposed to speak German together while you two speak English with one another?" My husband and I looked at one another and and said (in German), "You are right! We should be speaking German. Ok, here is the deal, we'll speak German with one another from now on and you'll agree to speak more German with your siblings, ok?" Our son pursed his lips to think about the deal. He clearly smelled something rotten. And then I quickly added, "And you stop calling me Corey and just call me Mama from now on, ok?" Our son started to look at us with clear suspicion while my husband topped it off with, "And you will always call me Papa, ok?"
Well, let's just say that we all eventually shook on it and agreed to the terms. Whether my son has any idea of what he really agreed to will be seen soon enough. I think he would have agreed to anything just to get the heck away from his crazy, begging, pleading parents.
Is this what a bilingual family has come down to? Making language deals over the dinner table? Well, if it works it is worth it right? I guess I had better remember to speak German with my husband from now on! I mean, a deal IS a deal, right?