When I moved to my new and present home, I left my family behind. My daughter came with me and without her, I wouldn’t have moved. Shiva was already here and I moved in most part for him. However, my mother, father, step-parents, four siblings, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins all remained 3000 or so miles away. I was most worried about my daughter growing up without those family roles present in her life.
But the Universe delivered us a new baba (grandmother in Bulgarian). Our nextdoor apartment neighbors are from Bulgaria and have a daughter very near in age to my daughter. Natural playmates, although there are some communication breakdowns. They have only been speaking Bulgarian in their home in order to ensure their daughter learns the language fluently. She hasn’t been to formal school yet and has only picked up English from leaving the home and be exposed through other friends. Her English is definitely a little broken.
My daughter has no qualms with this as last year we lived with a woman from China and her four year old. Her four year old hadn’t ever spoken English before coming to the US and somehow my daughter and her’s figured out how to communicate while speaking two different languages.
Today, I was able to experience one of those conversations. I was outside watering my plants on the balcony we share with our neighbors and Baba was outside.Baba was sweeping and pouring water all over the ground. I smiled and kept on watering and then she started talking to me. It was in Bulgarian but she gestured to the chalk art all over the balcony floor. She kept talking and throwing water down and sweeping up the chalk marks. I’m sure I understood something to the effect of “I clean this floor and these kids come over and over to mess it up again.” I’ll never know because it was all Bulgarian and I know maybe five words so far. I used the remainder of my watering can to pour over chalk as she was sweeping it off and I felt like she was thanking me for helping her. I went and go my broom and some more water and we set about cleaning the porch. She’d shout at me in Bulgarian (in the firm comforting way grandmothers do) and point to some spot and I’d clean it. And that was it. I went inside, she went in her apartment and I’m sure we both felt some satisfaction over cleaning the porch together.
We’ve been bonding slowly over the past few weeks, although I’ve always felt that she was very sweet towards me. Its just hard to bond when you don’t share a language. And then there are the times, when you really don’t need to translate.