Communication is everything. I’m not just saying it as someone who was a passionate member of the debate team in high school, studied journalism, and has always loved the written word. I’m saying it as an Italian Mamma, who confused her son with Italian and English and has spent more than a year trying to find ways to communicate with him.
My husband and I – like many modern parents – come from different places – Italy and the United States. We started out speaking both the Italian and English languages to him. He was in Italy, hearing English from me and Italian from my in-laws, at critical times in a child’s verbal development. While most people believe babies will soak it up, he never did. He started babbling in his own language and calling me Nonna (Italian for Grandma) or Zio (Italian for uncle) and my husband Zio Daddy. And he never repeated our other words or said much of anything that made sense. He had tantrums. Lots of tantrums. He was frustrated that we could not understand him. Who could blame him?
When we got back to the United States during our last stint there, the doctors intervened. We had to make some changes. I recently shared some of our experience in the Our Paesani column, “The Myth of Bilingual Babies,” which is on ItaliansRus.
We know that you have to be able to express yourself one way or another if you want any chance at living the sweet life. And our boy has made lots of progress in the last few months. One language we’ve had in common since his birth is that of amore – as you can see in the photo above.