Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy (Thai) New Year!

New Year Fireworks in Bangkok

The official Thai New Year isn't until April (Songkran), however the Thais love to celebrate New Year on Jan 1st, too. I remember my friends giving each other New Years presents as we do with Christmas - but on a smaller scale. I forgot all about this when I mentioned to Jeff that I'd like to go to the Thai temple today. We went just for a visit and to show Ruby, but were pleasantly surprised to see the place packed for a new year's celebration! It was great! Met some really nice people and found out they have gatherings once a week where we can meet other Thai and mixed families. So great! I'm sure we can find someone to teach her Thai and maybe even a Thai babysitter for down the road...should I ever be ready to leave her side. (LOL, that may take awhile!) It's a great place to learn and celebrate the Thai holidays and a bigger Thai community than I thought existed in our area.

We gave respect to the Buddha (which Ruby calls Boo-ba) and the monks. We made a donation (called "making merit") and mingled a little, then headed downstairs for some seriously good eats! YUM! Ruby was equally thrilled with the food.

We had our 2nd post placement visit Jan. 31st. It went great. Hard to believe we only have one left...and then finalization! Our social worker asked all the usual questions and we enjoyed sharing Ruby's accomplishments and milestones. One question came up that caught us by surprise, though. What have we done culturally since our last visit? (Thailand likes to know). Oh my gosh! How did we forget? We were so busy just getting into our groove at home...and then it was Thanksgiving and Christmas... we hadn't really done anything! I was embarrassed to have let this important thing go. So that is what prompted our visit but not the only reason. We have been meaning to go to this temple with Ruby for some time.

I also had a good long talk with Ruby's new teacher today. She qualifies for Early Intervention due to her mild hearing loss and language delay. The EI coordinators, teacher, and speech therapist all felt she was doing VERY well for the short time she has been home. They felt she was bright and would catch up, but could use weekly instruction due to the lack of exposure she's had to English. She also needs some work with her fine motor skills - like squeezing and pressing harder with a crayon. Again, they felt it was nothing to worry about, but something we could work on with her. I made some home made play dough the other day and she wasn't sure about getting all that mess on her hands (LOL)! But I brought it out again yesterday and she likes it now. Gonna get some regular colored Play-Dough, silly putty, and magic sand stuff this week.

Anyway, Ruby's new teacher seems like a doll and comes to the house this Wed to start teaching her. I can't wait to meet her. We talked about having Ruby retain her Thai language and how she felt it would effect her learning English. This has been on my mind a lot lately. With every new English word that replaces a Thai one, I am equally excited/proud of her, but also a wee bit sad for her native language lost. Many say to only focus on English because it could slow her progress down. This teacher didn't feel that way at all and works with many bilingual families. I was so glad to hear this! We will use mainly English, but expose her to Thai once or twice a month at the Thai temple. She also said it was okay to let her watch the Thai videos we bought in Thailand for her.

So we had a nice Thai style New Year's today. Ruby didn't seem to mind or be confused by everyone speaking in Thai to her. She actually responded and seemed to understand/remember far more Thai than she did when we were in Thailand! So interesting. Maybe she was just so scared and confused in the beginning. When we came home we played a bit and then watched a video with Thai girls singing and dancing on it. She smiled and danced along and had a ball. It feels good and right in my heart to keep her language familiar to her. When people called her Suphawadi or spoke Thai to her she seemed comfortable just as she is comfortable talking with us. So, yay! All is well in our little Thai American family! Happy New Year!


Jessica said...

One of my favorite New Year's Eves was spent in Thailand. We were at the beach and 1/2 of us were sick, but they had an Elvis performer we could hear from our rooms. He kept shouting, "Hoppy, hoppy, new year." Now, we say it every year. It still makes me laugh.

I've read a lot about language retention/new language learning, so I'm encouraged that Ruby's teacher works with bilingual families. Good to know! Thanks.

rosemary said...

So jealous that you live near a temple. That is such a wonderful community experience! That is a great report that Ruby got from her new teacher. She is a fantastic kiddo!

Sharon said...

'Sawatdee Pee Mai' to you all too!

Sharon xx