Here's an interesting dilemma. My daughter is saying what sounds like "mama" a lot. Only in Japanese, "manma" means food or eating in a kind of baby-talk. She uses the word to clearly indicate to us when she's hungry. But she also says something that sounds very similar (perhaps exactly the same) when pointing at me from time to time. The thing is, they are technically different in Japanese but it's hard for anyone here to distinguish Peanut's use of the word, is it actually mama or manma?
The dilemma is that I'm happy(!) she's communicating her desire to eat. I'm happy she's communicating at all! She's been doing this since she was maybe 10 1/2 months old. Cool! But I'm torn because it makes her identification of me harder to attribute based on her language at this early age. In the U.S. there would be no mistaking this sound for anything other than a reference to mommy. But here, I can't tell if she's pointing to me because she's hungry (she's still nursing after all) or if it's even intentional when she says mama.
I'm not sure how clear this all is; if you don't speak Japanese and can't hear the subtle difference it's very hard to convey. But the gist of this all is that I'm a little disappointed that I don't have that warm fuzzy feeling of hearing her call me by name. And to complicate things further, she's saying lots of things in Japanese - she's got at least 3 or 4 other words that she says in Japanese. I'm surprised to admit that I'm a little disappointed that more of her vocabulary isn't English. Silly isn't it? When Peanut is only 11 months old and her vocabulary will only expand with time.
But there you have it. Raising a bilingual baby is a wonderful thing and I'm not sorry for one minute that we're doing so, it's just...unsettling on occasion as well. Perhaps it's because we live in Japan right now and there are so very few English speakers around us. I think maybe there's an irrational part of me that's afraid that she won't speak English well enough to understand me. That's really, really silly I know, but I think being out of my element a little has me off-balance a bit. Because I don't think I'd give it a second thought if she spoke nothing but Japanese for the first few years as long as we were living in the U.S.