Great story— it reminded me of a temporary look of horror that my Japanese host mother had flash across her face when we were talking one day when I was just starting out with Japanese. “Can you say that part again?”, she gently asked. When I repeated myself, she was visibly relieved and the conversation resumed.
I had an inkling as to what had happened, but I never did figure out what the offending word was. At the time, it was obvious that asking her (there was a group of people at the table) what she thought I had said, would have made for an awkward moment.
Anyway, I liked this blogger’s takeaway from the incident. We give toddlers the benefit of the doubt all the time, we should be kind to adult learners!
In an instant, my reputation as a mother shattered in the eyes of our ayi.
I’ve finally begun Mandarin lessons. This past week, I learned the word for juice. I sat at the kitchen table with my tutor and made a mental note that it sounded similar to the English word for juice.
Fast-forward one hour. I took the leftover apple cider out of the fridge to give to my kids and thought it might be fun for ayi to try some. I poured a small glass and offered it to her, saying in my slowly deliberate Mandarin, “This is apple juice,” which I hoped would be close enough to “cider” and she could figure it out from there.
And here begins our conversation, in which I became a terrible mother.
Note: This all happened in Mandarin, aside from my thoughts, and ayi’s Mandarin has been paraphrased for the reader’s…
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