December 5, 2012

Some kids have imaginary friends. I’m sure there are times that it is perfectly innocent. But there are also times kids develop imaginary friends to mask their worries, their insecurities or be some sort of shield for some underlying pain.

My son speaks a foreign language. I’m not bragging about his ability to speak Spanish, Mandarin, or Hebrew in addition to English. Rather Drew speaks in a foreign tongue that only he understands. It’s not one of those things where the occasional word comes out sounding strange. He has long elaborate conversations in this language.

It’s not like he’s engaging in these conversations with himself, or perhaps an imaginary foreigner. He will respond to our questions or provide a lengthy comment directly at us in this language. Sometimes we will respond in our household language (um…English duh!) or use an unknown language in efforts to be equally silly.

I feel pretty confident that he has developed this funny little habit because he’s a funny little guy. But I wouldn’t be me if part of me wasn’t a little concerned that there might be some subliminal message I’m missing. Much like an invisible friend, is he struggling to communicate with us on our level and trying to find some alternate way? And better yet, what exactly does docashay really mean?

When he was between 2 and 3 he had some trouble engaging with other children and would find himself resorting to hitting in efforts to “play” with them. That explanation came after meetings with social workers and working closely with the teachers. When Gabby went through some of the same struggles, I understood it better. Both children have always been very verbal so I never really thought twice that their needs would go unaddressed.

Is Drew telling me something without telling me anything? I’m so sensitive to him because I know he is so strongly effected by each and every subtle change. Is it possible that a foreign language is just that…a foreign language? Is there a Rosetta Stone out there to catch me up to speed on this language? Or should we just keep English as our primary tongue and eventually he will go back to communicating in our household language?

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