Summer of Babel



Another season is over and like last season you got to hang with many of your family members. Your Dutch Oma was here at the beginning of Summer and she was here just this last week, she went back home on the last day of Summer. Uncle Djamo and aunt Yasmin have moved to Kuwait, but you did get to see them this Summer, uncle Djamo even twice. And of course, your Japanese Opa and Oma came over for a long visit in August.

You enjoy your family members so much, it always breaks my heart when we have to say goodbye again. I always make sure you see people leave and make a big deal of saying goodbye to them, because I don’t want you going around the house looking for them after they’ve left. You really do understand when they’re gone. One time you were looking through the window at the courtyard gate, through which you saw the car drive away earlier. You pointed at it and said “bye bye Oma, bye bye Djamo, bye bye Yasmin”, again. It’s a bit sad, but you’re always very happy to see them in real life and again on FaceTime.

Oh the trains. Your life is all about trains these days. We even went to the cinema, your very first time, to see a Thomas the Train movie. We were armed with a huge bucket of popcorn and seats near the exit, just in case you wanted to escape. It went great. You loved the whole experience. You pointed at the screen, yelled out train names, watched the movie, danced to the music, clapped, and ate a lot of popcorn. There were really catchy songs in the movie, by now we’ve all seen these countless times on YouTube. They’re total earworms. For weeks, all three of us (yes that totally includes you) have been singing “somebody has to be the favorite” and “what can’t we do – anything”, on repeat. Thank goodness, we all actually love these songs.

You’ve been making train sounds in Dutch – “tjoeke tjoeke tjoeke” – and Japanese – “shu shu poh poh” – for months now. You used to call trains “poh pohs”, but now you call them “trein” [🇳🇱 train] or you simply use their names. The Thomas trains all have their own names and you know them all. Papa used to have a different melody for each character and repeated its name over and over while singing that melody. You used to sing along and I think they helped you remember, but you don’t need these kinds of mnemonics anymore. It’s easy for you to remember names of new trains. You love copying the different faces the trains make. If one of them looks angry, you’ll try to copy that look with your own face and urge us to do the same. This is highly entertaining to you, and us.

You love watching Thomas videos on YouTube. All kinds of videos, like people racing their different trains, or people building tracks or trains, or just Thomas cartoons. One time before bed, you were watching Thomas and you said “Thomas, I love you.” That was really cute, and really reaffirmed what we already knew. You love your trains. Your favorite train is Toby the Tram Engine. I don’t know why, but since you love him he’s my favorite as well. They are so important to you, you often try to hold way too many trains in your tiny hands when you’re nursing to sleep.

You got really upset when we tried to bathe you, for quite a long time. I was getting desperate and ended up buying Thomas & Friends foam bath puzzles. I hoped they might help to convince you to get in the bath. You found them fascinating and watched eagerly, from outside the bath, while Papa played with them on the wall. Of course, he did it all wrong. We put you in the bath and initially you screamed and got upset about being in the bath. Within seconds the urge to fix Papa’s terrible puzzle work won and you got busy. You loved the puzzles.

Ever since, bathing you has been no problem at all! Even if you initially say no when we mention bathing, a quick reminder of the puzzles and you’re on your way upstairs. Sometimes you even ask to be bathed on a non-bathing day or after you’ve already been bathed. You’ve spent lots of happy moments in the bath with your Thomas puzzles.

Since you were so good at the bath puzzles, I introduced you to a bunch of special puzzles we brought from Japan. The simplest one has only two pieces, the hardest one has 20 pieces. In no time, you mastered them all, even the ones for 4-5 year-olds. You are quite the puzzle whiz! You’ve moved on to lenticular puzzles and are currently working on solving superhero puzzles with 45 pieces each.

At the beginning of Summer, you and I were playing with your duplos and something wasn’t working. You wanted me to help you. I was able to do it and then you rewarded me with a loud: “Yay! Good job, Mama.” That made me laugh out loud and it made me so proud of you! Ever since, you’ve been praising just about everyone, including yourself, for everything. When you’re doing a puzzle by yourself, I can hear you tell yourself “good job, Babel” with every single piece you connect correctly. Hearing you say that repeatedly until you finish a puzzle is quite adorable.

You speak and ask for everything verbally now. When you want milk, you say “melk” [🇳🇱 milk] for the right boob and “andere kant” [🇳🇱 other side] for the left boob. It started out with you saying “andekgherekeke kan” at the beginning of Summer, but now you say it correctly. You talk in your sleep, just like Papa. You’ve talked about “aardbei” [🇳🇱 strawberry] and of course Thomas the train, while asleep.

When you want something to eat or drink you ask for it directly. Often requested are:

  • aardbei [🇳🇱strawberry]
  • mikan [ 🇯🇵orange]
  • perzik [🇳🇱 peach]
  • banana
  • juice
  • mizu [🇯🇵 water]
  • shipusu [potato chips]
  • hummus
  • mayonnaise [when eating potatoes or fries]
  • Babel corn [corn]
  • chocola [🇳🇱 chocolate]

Ice cream and candy are requested in a special way, because we don’t want you to know where we hide them. So we direct you to the living room where you pick up a phone, either a play phone or an iPhone, through which you say either “ice ice baby” [ice cream], “yoyyie please” [lollipop], or “gummi please” [gummy candy]. And then one of these treats magically appears in the living room. When it’s ice cream you want, you always request ice cream for the other people in the room as well. When you’re given all the ice creams (we have Twister ice creams), you hand them out to everyone always making sure that the one you’re left with is a green one. You certainly have a preference. Works out nicely, because my favorite are the red ones.

When we put a new diaper on you, you’ll say “bye bye chin chin” [🇯🇵 penis]. When we put a shirt on you, you’ll say “bye bye buik” [🇳🇱 belly]. When we put your shoes on, you’ll say “bye bye teen” [🇳🇱 toe]. You love using your words and are eager to learn more words. You will point at things and ask “dare” [🇯🇵 who] or “wie/wat is dat” [🇳🇱 who/what is that].

When you need help, you’ll say “Mama, help?” When you want us to open something or take something apart you’ll say “openmaken” [🇳🇱 make open]. When you want us to clean your hands, you’ll say “te kirei kirei” [🇯🇵 hand beautiful] to Papa or “hand schoonmaken” [🇳🇱 clean hand] to me. You know who to speak what language to. When you want Papa or your Japanese Opa and Oma to join in you will say their name and add “mo” [🇯🇵 also], when you’re talking to anyone Dutch you’ll use “ook” [🇳🇱 also]. You have no problem switching it up. It’s really quite amazing.

Sometimes we can hear you mix your languages up. For example, you will say “sugoi” [🇯🇵 amazing] with a soft Dutch “g” instead of a hard Japanese “g”. And for a long time you were saying “dekai na” when something didn’t work. We finally figured out you were actually saying “dat kan niet” [🇳🇱 it’s not working] with a Japanese speech rhythm.

You can sing songs with the right timing and words now. Here’s a short list of songs you often sing:

  • Happy Birthday
  • Gu choki pa 🇯🇵 (including all the gestures, your favorites being tako-san [🇯🇵 octopus], cho cho [🇯🇵 butterfly] ,and gorilla)
  • Anpanman Taisou 🇯🇵
  • Queen’s “We Will Rock You”
  • Moana’s “You’re Welcome”
  • Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”
  • Thomas & Friends’ Theme Song
  • Thomas & Friends’ Movie songs “We Can’t Do Anything” & “Somebody Has to Be the Favorite”
  • Batman Theme Song
  • Spiderman Theme Song

You sing along to the songs on TV or if we sing them with you. You can even change the lyrics to your liking to match something you’re thinking about. You will also repeatedly sing something you want and you will keep singing whatever melody you’re using correctly. You can even hum songs while you’re nursing.

When you sing the Happy Birthday song, you also want to blow out candles. You got to blow out candles again on my birthday cake this Summer. But once wasn’t enough, you did it three times that day. There have been numerous occasions since that you’ve asked me to take out the candles from the drawer. I light them and then we all sing the Happy Birthday song while you blow out the candles, and we do that three times. You’re a trained candle blower.

You’re also a trained blower of air and raspberries. You still think it’s your special power to blow people away and you love doing it and seeing us all pretend to be blown away. You let us blow you away as well, but you’re generally the most powerful. You also love playing that game while nursing, but then it seems to be who can make the loudest noise. You or me. You never get tired of these games.

When you are frustrated and you need to express your anger you scream either “happy birthday to you” or “anpanman wa kimi sa”. These are both songs you’re quite good at singing, but when used in anger you use it to communicate something like “listen to me” or “I really don’t like what’s happening”. It means you’re seriously upset. It’s very cute and funny to be wished a happy birthday in such an angry tone. Someday you’ll learn more appropriate things to yell at people when they anger you, but for now we prefer it this way.

When one of us is frustrated or upset and you notice it, you immediately try to cheer us up with a huge grin on your face and a very sweet and prolonged “hiiii”. I’ve got to give it to you, it does help and makes us feel better instantly. You’re a sweet boy.

You understand the concept of “thuis” [🇳🇱 home]. Every time we get there you announce it while pointing. You can even wait to do things until we’re home. We were in town waiting for the bus home with a new puzzle. Of course, you wanted to open it to play with it, and you wanted to nurse. I told you we could do both at home. On our way home you waited patiently while saying “thuis openmaken” [🇳🇱 open at home] and “thuis melk” [🇳🇱 milk at home] to yourself repeatedly. I was quite impressed.

When Opa and Oma were here you started using “kowai” [🇯🇵 scary] correctly. I noticed it the first time when we saw someone dressed up like a rather real-looking dinosaur and you wanted to get away from it. You always use it correctly, and often label Papa or me as “kowai” because we’re chasing you through the house trying to eat you or tickle you. You love that, and we love your loud laughter.

You love creative things. We have this book filled with empty faces and stickers that look like eyes, noses, mouths, ears, mustaches, eyebrows and more. You love picking stickers and building awesome looking faces. You know where each part of the face goes and are able to create correct faces. We’ve also practiced drawing Anpanman a bazillion times for months (per your request) and now you can draw your own faces. You love drawing with pen and paper, with chalk on the pavement, or with your magna doodle, it doesn’t matter to you as long as you get to draw.

You’re also a big fan of play doh and kinetic sand. We have both at home and everyday you ask to play with it. It keeps you focused and entertained for long periods of time as well. You love using the molds to create shapes, and you love pushing down in the sand with your hands. I wish it wasn’t so messy. To be honest, you’re not as messy as we feared you would be, but still it requires a certain amount of clean up and your clothes always end up in the laundry.

You love helping out. Your current (self-appointed) daily chore is turning on the dishwasher. You’ll get a dishwasher tablet from the bag, put it in the right compartment in the machine. Close the lid. Push the right buttons and then close the heavy machine door. You used to only close the door, but you obviously observed me do to the other things many times and just took over from me a while ago.

Last Summer, your Dutch Oma and I took you for a donkey ride in the park. It was really hard because you had no idea how to sit on the donkey. Your arms and legs were kind of spread out wide. This year, you were a pro! It was just me, so I was a bit worried how I was going to pull the donkey around and help you to keep seated on the donkey. But you didn’t need any help at all. You sat up straight, held the part of the saddle meant for holding, and enjoyed the whole ride without any problem. You told me how cute the donkey was and you were very happy to pet the donkeys as well.

You really love animals. We went to a few animal attractions when your Japanese grandparents were here. Any chance you get to pet an animal, especially a furry animal, you’re happy as can be. You probably had the most fun when you got to pet huge rabbits and free-walking pigs at a wildlife park. The rabbits were the same size as you and the pigs were two or three times your size. You followed them around and petted them all.

We went back to Buxton! And we finally got to ride the Pavilion Gardens train with you! And we loved it and so did you. When we lived at that park, I took you there everyday. Often we would see the train and I would think one day we’ll ride that train with you. It wasn’t in operation every day, and on days it was, there was always something more important to do, I guess. Once it was open for business and I actually tried taking you on it, but the driver told me he wouldn’t drive the train for just the two of us and we had to wait until more people showed up. It never happened. Then we moved to Derby. Luckily, there was also a train in the park near our house here. Again, we planned to take you on it, but we never did and they took the whole train out of service due to city budget cuts. So the first thing we did when we got to Buxton was take you on that train! Still, I want to take you back to Buxton again soon, because we didn’t have time to play in the park, go for a swim, or go to the shops, and I really want to do that with you as well.

Your hair is getting pretty long and it keeps getting in your eyes. Your first haircut earlier this year was pretty traumatic, so I’m hesitant to do it again. Also, I really want to see what you’ll look like with long hair. I have used pins to keep the hair out of your eyes, and you’ll tolerate that for a bit. We’re going to Japan this Winter and we’ll probably give the Anpanman barbershop another try then, unless you ask me for another haircut before that.

As you may have noticed I love taking photos of you to see how you’re changing per week, per month, per year. I’m slightly obsessed with you, but hey I am your mother. I tried to recreate one of my favorite photos of you last Summer (see below). I took them both at the beginning of September. Boy, have you grown up! I mean I know that only makes sense, it’s exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Still it keeps amazing us to no end. Keep doing what you’re doing little man, you’re on a roll.



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