I moved to Japan in 2004. At that time I expected it to be a two or three year adventure before heading back and discovering what life has in store for me.
As it turned out life wanted me to remain in Japan as work opportunities kept popping up. Not only that, but I met an amazing woman who seems to think the same way about me.
She’s been a part of my life for 9 years, 6 of which we’ve been married. Together we made a beautiful child that has been with us for a little over a year.
Our home language is Japanese and that is how we have always primarily conversed. She can manage some simple English but it is not her strong suit. And why should it be? Outside of me and my family she has never really had a need to practice English. That she has retained enough of it to allow basic conversation with my parents (who speak even less Japanese) is a sign of her intelligence.
I’ve never wanted to force my wife to learn English. While it would make things a little easier if she and my parents could communicate more, they manage. But I love my wife regardless the languages she speaks or does not speak.
But when it comes to my son I want him growing up learning to speak English, at least as a second language. I do my best to speak to him only in English and encourage my friends to do the same. I I d my self narrating my day when I’m with him and trying to have more get-togethers that I can bring him to so he can be exposed to normal Emglish conversation.
I know that his Japanese is quickly going to outshine his English and that getting him close to fluent will take a lot of work. But I think it will be worth it not only for his future but so he can understand his father’s culture.
My wife knows my feelings and understands them. That alone would be enough. But she goes the extra step. Many times I have seen here playing little games with him in English or singing bits of English songs. This morning she was reading one of our English books to him.
That she does this means so much to me. I’ve never asked her to use English with him and would never do so. But she knows it is important to me and so she uses Emglish with him. She is taking that extra step even if it means demonstrating something she has difficulty with herself.
All of this is just another illustration of how remarkable she is and how lucky I am to have her in my life.