Winter of Babel


Wow, another season of your life passed. This Winter we went to Japan to celebrate Oshougatsu [🇯🇵 New Year’s holidays] for the first time. It’s the biggest holiday in Japan and we celebrated for three days with lots of gorgeous food and lots of your family members. You spoke lots of Japanese, ate lots of Japanese food, had another haircut (and hated it again), and we bought you lots of Japanese Pla Rail and Thomas trains.

The theme of this trip to Japan almost felt like it was Thomas and Friends. We went to loads of toy stores to find more and more Thomas items and we even traveled to see Thomas and Friends. We took you to Thomas Land near Mt Fuji, to Thomas Station in Izumi, to a Thomas Pla Rail Expo in Osaka, and we even rode an actual Thomas and Friends train. You loved it all!

After we got back from Japan, Derby ended up covered in snow quite a few times this Winter. The first time, it was just you and I, as Papa was working. You enjoyed playing in the snow and walking through the falling snow. We made little balls of snow and threw them at each other and we even rolled two bigger balls to create a tiny snowman. You placed its head on top of its body and put in the branch arms. We had a lot of fun, and I was looking forward to the next time we could play in the snow with Papa there.

Yet, all the other times there was snow this Winter, you haven’t been wanting to play in it. Not even walk in it. It’s been hard to convince you to come outside with us, and when you did come you requested to sit in the buggy. Bit strange, let’s see what you make of snow next Winter.

You used to hate to sit in the buggy, it made you really upset and you would scream and try to climb out. I stopped walking longer distances with you because it was too stressful for you and me. There were a few times we even left the house without the buggy because there was no point to bring it.

I kind of thought we were phasing the buggy out, but these last few weeks you’ve been super eager to sit in your buggy. The good thing about it is that we get places faster and easier when you are in your buggy. But you don’t really seem to want to play outside anymore or go for walks. You say you want to play at home instead. I guess it’s just another phase and soon you’ll want to go out with me again.

Of course, you often want to do something different from what we would like you to do. Especially, changing your diaper and getting dressed can be challenging. We do our best to convince you and we always know when it has worked because then you’ll say “oh ok, let’s do this!” and you’ll be very cooperative. These days, it’s probably one of our favorite Babel phrases as parents of a strong willed toddler.

You ask for help by saying “Can you help, help?” If that help requires a little effort you are good at encouraging us. We often hear “ganbare” [🇯🇵 do your best], “you can do it, Mama/Papa”, “you got this” from you. You also reward us with excited praise after we’ve helped: “Good job, Mama/Papa!” or “You found it!” And also a very lovely: “thank you very much!”

You also like helping people. The best way you know to help people is to reach out and give them your hand. You don’t actually put any strength behind it yet, so taking your hand is not very helpful to anyone yet. But we adore the gesture and how much you want to help.

This last month you’ve had quite a few meltdowns. They usually happen when you are tired and grumpy. You are a very precise person and you like things exactly right, meaning however you have imagined it in your toddler mind. Often these things are impossible.

You will start out a bit annoyed saying “like this, like this” and show us what you want. We usually understand exactly what you want to do, but it is something impossible, like attach bunny ears to a toy’s body instead of its head. Soon your annoyance turns into anger, and you start crying and screaming “like this, like this!”

The only thing that helps is just be there for you and to let you get it all out of your system. Lots of angry tears later you will ask for melkie, and while you’re nursing you usually calm down, and often fall asleep. Big emotions are hard, but you are learning to handle them.

I love how you often greet me when you wake up in the morning. First, you utter a sleepy “melkie?” Then, you open your eyes, see me and I hear a very cute “hello, Mama.” Thankfully, you’re not calling my boobs Hiro and Toby anymore, and it’s back to “melkie [🇳🇱milky]” and “andere kant [🇳🇱other side]”.

One morning you were extra adorable. After waking up and finishing your morning breastfeed, you sat up, you touched each boob with your index finger and said “deze [🇳🇱this], I love you, hè. I love you, milkies, hè”. Wow, I loved that!

You’re been telling us you love us without prompting more regularly these days. It catches us off guard each time and it’s the most adorable thing. I’m not quite sure you know what you’re saying exactly, but you sure know what kind of reaction you get every time you say it, which I think is why you love saying it to us.

You’ve loved drawing since I can remember. You never color. When someone gives you a coloring page, you will always turn the page over and start drawing on the blank paper instead. I think you just don’t get what’s fun about coloring.

Your drawings are really good too. You’ve been able to draw faces for a very long time. This past season you’ve started adding arms and legs. Faces are also getting more detailed, they come with eye lashes now. It’s really quite impressive for a two-year-old.

You love letters and numbers as well. You can recognize a lot of letters and numbers already and you try your very best to write or rather draw them.

You like babies, you think they’re cute. We watched a home waterbirth on YouTube together. You were fascinated. When the baby was born you said “aw baby cute”. Then you drew a blob with two outstretched legs and a baby’s head in between them and told me it was the mom and baby in the belly (with his head sticking out, about to be born).

Your very first cousin was born just a few weeks ago. Papa’s sister Yuka had a little girl named Isla. They live in Australia, so we have no idea when you’ll actually meet her. But we’ve met her over FaceTime and you’ve told us repeatedly she’s so cute! She sure is and she reminds me a lot of you when you were just born.

Someday soon we hope to be able to give you a sibling. So I asked if you wanted a baby brother: “no”. Then I asked if you wanted a baby sister: “no”. You thought for a short moment and said: “How about Toby?” So you’d like a baby train, then?

Since, I’ve asked you again if you wanted a baby: “yes”. I also asked if you wanted a boy or girl baby: “jongen [🇳🇱boy]. Alright, a baby brother, we’ll get working on that!

You still love dancing and singing. Your current favorites are Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song and a Japanese song about walking [🇯🇵aruko]. You’re getting really good at remembering and singing the long lyrics to the Japanese song, you’ve even started teaching me the lyrics when I stumble in my attempt to sing the song.

You prefer your food cold. You love leftover curry rice straight from the fridge. Any other kind of food you like cooled down in the fridge or freezer before you eat it.

You’re eating quite a lot of food these days. You’re a huge fan of Japanese food. Of course, who isn’t? You love rice, nori, miso soup, happosai, curry, ramen, yakisoba. Dutch food wise, or rather things your Dutch mama likes to eat and you like as well are: bread, cheese, and gherkins.

We’ve had a little wind-up train since our Spring visit to Japan. It’s green and we’ve told you it was Henry from Thomas and Friends, and you’ve always called him Henry. Recently, you spotted the Flying Scotsman on TV and realized that the little train you’ve had since April is actually the Flying Scotsman, not Henry.

You found that old wind-up train and excitedly told us his name. It was hard for you to pronounce the Flying Scotsman and it was even harder for you to make us understand what was going on, but you did it! We were quite impressed with you too!

As expected your speaking is only getting better and is becoming almost non-stop. You have a lot to say and you love having conversations with us and your friends. You use all three languages all day long, which helps Papa and Mama learn a bit more about each other’s language as well.

It’s especially helpful when you list what one word is in three languages. “Grape, 🇳🇱druif, 🇯🇵budou, issho [🇯🇵same]!” When I hear you do that, it often teaches me the Japanese translation of a word. You do it to make sense of it yourself and to excitedly tell us you’ve discovered the connection between those words. It also makes it very easy to teach you the translation of a word you only know in one language. We just do the same, and you instantly get it.

You know everyone’s names pretty well. You know what name belongs to each grandparent and you can tell us in which country they live. You also often call us “Yasu” and “ Louana” which sounds really funny.

You like saying “hey”. “Hey, whaddaya doin’, Papa/Mama?” is a regular. When you try to get our attention it’s “hey, Papa/Mama” or even “hey, Yasu/Louana!”. You also hear us refer to each other as “schatje [🇳🇱 darling] so you are aslo know to call out “hey, schatje!” if you want me to pay attention to you. No matter what comes after the “hey”, whenever you use it, it tickles our funny bone.

You were telling me one day that Papa is Yasu, Mama is Louana and Babel is Babel. And then you said that “jij [🇳🇱you]” is Babel and that “ik [🇳🇱I]” is Mama. Well, yes, I often refer to you as “jij” and to myself as “ik”, you picked up on that perfectly. But how could I explain to you that you are also “ik” and that I am also “jij” depending on who’s doing the talking. You are just two years old after all. So I just proudly confirmed that Babel is “jij” en Mama is “ik” and I’m sure you’ll figure out how these things really work on your own soon enough.

You have figured out that boys have a “chin chin [🇯🇵penis]”. You will tell us that Babel has a chin chin and that Papa has a chin chin. We asked: “What about Mama?” No Mama does not have a chin chin. After a little think you told us that Mama does have milkies. It’s true, you figured that out quite correctly. So boys have a chin chin and girls (at least grown up ones) have milkies.

Your communication abilities are still developing but you have already started making jokes (you certainly take after your father). One attempt at humor I remember was when you told me that Babel does not have a chin chin, and that Mama does have one. You said this with a sly smile on your face and then told me “Babel, gek [🇳🇱crazy], hè?!”

Whenever someone is being funny you declare them “gek, hè”. We hear a lot of “Mama, gek, hè” and “Papa, gek, hè” in our daily life.

Apparently, you think “wil je … [🇳🇱do you want …]” means “I want …” It makes sense, because in the past when I’ve been trying to establish what you wanted I would always use “wil je …” Obviously, that stuck. Now every time you want something it sounds like you’re asking us if we want something.

When you want to drink, you will ask “wil je melkie? [🇳🇱do you want milk?]” or “wil je water? [🇳🇱do you want water?]” When you want to watch Thomas, you will ask “wil je Thomas zien? [🇳🇱do you want to see Thomas?]”

Still, you also use “wil je” almost correctly. When you want me to open or clean something you will ask “wil je openmaken/schoonmaken? [🇳🇱do you want to open/clean?]”

When you hurt yourself or are upset and we ask you “are you okay?” You will answer: “I’m okay. I’m okay.” When the situation asks for it, you will also ask us “are you okay?” or in Japanese “🇯🇵daijoubu?”

When I ask if you if you want something, for example to eat or play with, and it is indeed what you want you respond with an extremely cute “yes” and/or a very obvious nodding up and down of your head.

When you don’t like the taste of something you will say it’s “spicy”. You used to say a loud and emphasized “like it” when you actually did not like something. But these days, you say “spicy”. You never really get to eat anything spicy, so I don’t know where you picked that word up, but to you the word definitely means “not tasty” and “I don’t like it”.

Other expressions you’ve been using frequently and we really want to remember:

  • Chotto chigau na [🇯🇵it’s a bit wrong]
  • Bikkuri shita! [🇯🇵I’m surprised]
  • Oh wow, big nice!
  • Next: …! / 🇯🇵Tsugi: …!
  • Go away, …(person name)…
  • No, you can’t. (last word elongated)
  • I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.
  • One for you, one for you (handing out things).
  • There we go, here here.
  • Wat zit erin? [🇳🇱 what’s in it?] or What’s put it in?
  • Beetje wel, hè. [🇳🇱yes, quite]
  • Ready steady go smile! (when holding a camera)

One last thing I really don’t want to forget is how much you love sitting seiza [🇯🇵proper sitting]. Not sure if you started doing it naturally, or you learned it in Japan, but you do it almost everywhere. Even on your wooden kitchen stool when we have dinner in the kitchen.

To sit seiza-style, you kneel first, then sit down resting your bum on your heels, so your legs are folded underneath your thighs. As most Westerlings, I find this highly uncomfortable, especially for longer than a few minutes, but this way of sitting is very popular in Japan especially with the ladies.

Your grandmas and great-aunts sit like that constantly, and you may have picked it up from them. You’re very good at it. You’re a very proper little Japanese boy.

One thought on “Winter of Babel

  1. These days, your vocabulary has been exploding! You often talk to yourself out loud. As your name says, you are learning the 3 languages at the same time so well. Papa and mama are so impressed! Not only that, you can draw faces and can almost spell your name :) We are so proud of you Babel. Let’s play more!

    Liked by 1 person

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