My granddaughter attended daycare, which she called “school”, from 4 until 21 months old. She learned to exist and to blossom, there. She enjoyed being the apple of her parents’ eyes at home and of grandparents’ eyes through FaceTime (neither my husband nor I were there except virtually as we were living abroad.) In the latter surrounding, Italian is the spoken language. Suddenly the pandemic changed her world. She was thrown full time back into the loving arms of her parents and into the digital virtual world with her other relatives. Italian was all she needed to communicate; life was easier for her. She, her 6-month-old brother and her parents retreated to the empty “grandma’s house” to leave the city and share more freedom to move about. In the last 4 months at home with her parents balancing care for her and her brother and doing their jobs virtually, her ability to balance the two languages faded.
Finally, daycare reopened with masks, social distancing, and increased hygienic standards and she went back to her old world. Her teachers report that she is happy as can be, although no one is understanding what she is saying.
In 4 months, she has forgotten that in some settings she needs to speak English and in other settings it is okay to speak Italian. She assumes all is right and she has the curiosity to say and do as she always does. Soon she will sort it out and the balance she once held will resume. For now, she marches on, seen and heard and valued even if not understood. She feels no shame in speaking another language.
Is this true for us as adults? What happens to our courage and curiosity? Why in similar circumstances do we feel shame or wish to avoid judgment? It is because we often are narrow-minded and faultfinders ourselves. What we forget is that everyone gets to be right, at least partially and that everyone gets to be wrong, at least partially. Compassion helps us endure this ambiguity.