Last week in the middle of the night, I heard Mina talking in her sleep. The small bubble of pleasure of witnessing her do something I have been known to do was popped by the fact that she spoke in Japanese. My heart broke a little to hear it. To think that my daughter’s most inner, private world was going on inside her mind in Japanese made me feel distanced from her. Intellectually I understand how wonderful, and how challenging, it is to raise bilingual children, however I never anticipated the emotional difficulty of the fact that my children’s first language is Japanese. Even if English is their “mother tongue,” Japanese will always be the stronger language for them.
Last night, I was awake in the middle of the night, when suddenly Mina said, “can you not do that.” In her sleep. In English. I could not help from smiling with the realization that my daughter’s dream world is just as blended, bilingual, creative, mysterious and multifaceted as she herself is. And then she proceeded to grind her teeth, just like her father.