Kaia’s Chinese

At 18 months of age, Kaia is extremely verbal. We’ve been excited to hear her constantly say new words and match words to objects or actions. I’ve been curious to understand at what age children are able to differentiate what language they are speaking or is being spoken, and how they are able to map that out in their minds. So far for her Chinese, most regularly, she says “xi shou” for “wash hands.” She’s also said “xi fa” for wash hair, and “mian” for noodles. I know she also associates “shui jiao” with “sleep” because she always whines and whinges whenever I say it around bedtime, then tries to make a beeline out of her bedroom. But for other things, I’m not always sure.

This morning, I was giving her breakfast, and the final part of it was sliced red grapes. I held up a bunch of grapes and asked her, “Kaia, what’s this?” She immediately smiled and responded, “Pu tao, pu tao.” In that moment, Chris’s mom got confused and asked, what is she saying? But I knew exactly what she said and just felt so damn proud. I felt like my whole body lit up.

“Pu tao! YES, BABY! That’s right! Pu tao! That’s ‘grape’ in Chinese!” I exclaimed, excitedly.

I was a bit worried when she started daycare because they always sing English songs, and it was very clear that she preferred her English songs to the Chinese nursery rhymes I’d sing her. She used to know a couple of the Chinese song verses and sing them, and even our ex-nanny noticed this. But once daycare started, she stopped, so I wasn’t sure if she’d even want to sing the Chinese songs anymore. But with this single act of saying “pu tao,” that worry got put to rest, and my hope for her continuing to learn Chinese was reignited.

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