Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Vad heter du?

"Vad heter du? Vad heter du?" - I was always asked this question, "What's your name?" by a group of children every time I walked past a Swedish preschool/daycare.  I would smile politely at the group of school children pressed against the chain link fence and give them my answer. What they did with that information, I'll never know. In fact, it seemed like something of an icebreaker/greeting that the children inherently knew and I found it endearing.

There is a construction site across from Calvin and Lucy's preschool and there was a construction worker standing there, directing pedestrian traffic as a large truck rumbled by. "Vad heter du?" asked Calvin. The man just smiled and ignored the question as I am sure he is asked it often by all of the children at the school. I think in that moment, it dawned on me that Calvin is a Swedish boy.

I asked Calvin why he asked strangers what their name was and his answer was surprisingly simple (I'm not sure why I expected a complex answer). As if revealing the wonders of the universe, he simply replied, "Because I don't know what their names are." Oh. Of course.

I am still surprised and slightly taken aback when my American child acts like a Swedish child. It catches me off guard when very Swedish sayings come out of his mouth. He even says, "Jaha!" in our English conversations. At times, he'll speak in English with the Swedish sentence structure and we will have to correct him. His brain is thinking in Swedish and English and sometimes the wires cross.

Watching my American child become Swedish, not just speaking Swedish, is such an odd event that I think goes hand in hand with watching him grow up. He's most definitely carving his own path that I never could have predicted for him and it is fascinating, terrifying and gratifying all at the same time.

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