Tonight it occurred to me that I am the only one speaking Swedish in our everyday life. It sounds silly when I put it like that, of course I have been very aware ever since I moved to Japan, and even more so after the corona pandemic made it difficult if not impossible to meet other people, but when sitting in the backseat of a car next to our son, traveling on an elevated highway in the dark, singing to him, finding that today it is only “När trollmor har lagt de elva små trollen” (When the troll mother has put the eleven little trolls to sleep) that soothes him, it struck me that there is nobody around who will have even an inkling of what I am singing to him.
Our, my wife’s and my, wish and hope is that our son will be bilingual from day one (and hopefully he will pick up English too at an early age, though I am a bit afraid of him imitating our way of communicating about hard to understand subjects in English). I always speak Swedish to him and my wife speaks always Japanese. However, when singing to him in the car today, I profoundly realized that the kind of Swedish I speak to him is most probably the only kind of Swedish he will learn before getting a bit older. And if I do not speak properly (or worse, if I make up words or create strange grammatical figures or words in strange ways) I will pave the path for a very distressing and confusing future for our son when using the Swedish language.
I could, if I wanted, have sung a lullaby full of bad words and made it sound like the sweetest song ever created and no one in the car would be the wiser. And I would probably get away with it until our son himself starts to sing and a relative hears him and wonders what kind of father our son has. (And by then it would be a bit too late.) So good thing is that I have no desire to create an unnecessary confusing future for our son (and do not worry – I feel no such evil tendencies that would encourage me to do so), on the contrary I have the strongest desire to help our son feel that he has a mother tongue as well as a father one. And that is really really maktpåliggande as I would say in Swedish (I can not find a good word in English but I would explain it as something filled with the utmost responsibility).
I hope I can carry this responsibility with a steadfast sense of direction and I look forward to writing a happy post here in the future, talking about our adventures in the Swedish language. Maybe by then we will have a wife and mother who also has picked up a bit of Swedish on the way. Now that is something to work for.
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