The boy is ‘on the verge’ of a huge vocabulary. There’s a lot he is saying, but I am not sure what language it is in. The only words I can comprehend are ‘mamma’ and ‘dada’.
Which brings me to: What language do I want him to learn? English is like a default setting, there’s going to be too much of that anyway and no, it doesn’t make me happy. Hindi will come with Bollywood and play. Marathi is freely available at home with the cook and the cleaning lady. But none of these would figure as his mother tongue. I don’t want the lad to wonder what to fill, should such an entry exist in the list of future forms he will have to negotiate.
As for me, Tamil is my mother tongue, but I seem to have taken that quite seriously as the-language-on-my-tongue-when-I-speak-to-my-mother. Which brings me to — how your parents become all the more important (especially when they share a mother tongue) when you have a child. They are the only ones who know what is yours, culturally at least.
So I am currently staking a claim to my mother tongue by sporadically speaking in Tamil to him, at which he grins an evil grin, or gurgles, as if I have mixed up my tenses, or worse, my genders. Also nothing feels more ridiculous than speaking to someone who doesn’t speak back to you. Which is why I abhor baby talk and am glad it will soon be over.
The sperm donor is a diplo-brat, which is a euphemism for I-don’t-have-a-fucking-clue-where-my-roots-are. When I asked him (should have done so before marriage) what his mother tongue was, he said ‘German’ with a degree of nonchalance. It is true. Even today, his German or French sounds better than his Hindi (which would be his mother tongue as indicated by his last name).
It’s all very well to have cocktail cultures arising from mixed marriages, but the whole dilemma of what to keep and what to let go is so not worth it. Well, another occupational hazard of having a baby, I guess.