My Swedish is OK. It would be better if I did not speak English at home and at work and with my children. But, for all that, I can still translate children’s books to read to NK in English. I can still get by in most situations, even if I have to write realtors and coop boards in English. And I can understand everything my almost three-year-old daughter said – in English or Swedish.
It is not always easy, of course. E and I listen to a phrase, first trying to figure out what language NK is speaking, then trying to figure out which word in that language she is using. It is usually a beautiful blend, a word in English, two words in Swedish, then an English verb conjugated as a Swedish one.
But I always understand most of it, and when I don’t, I just shrug it off to toddler-speak, or we move past the sentence, and I realize later that I misunderstood.
Then yesterday, NK said the Swedish word snurra. And I said I did not know that word.
And she swirled her fingers in a circle.
“Oh, spin!,” I said, and she looked thrilled and nodded and laughed.
I know her Swedish is going to be better than mine. I was a little worried, thinking that I would really have to study, that I wanted to always understand her.
Maybe I will. With her help. What a better teacher?