Dear Mommy and Daddy,
Here I am! Your new baby! I’m pretty darn cute, right?
I know you’re surprised to see this letter. You didn’t expect me to arrive with a special delivery, did you? But I had a lot of time on my hands in Mommy’s tummy. I mean, it was warm and cozy in there, and the room service was great, but it was kind of boring, to be honest. Just growing and growing, day after day. I recommend cable TV for the next kid.
There wasn’t much of a view, either. I couldn’t find any windows and I had trouble peeking from Mommy’s belly button. To tell the truth, I got a little worried. I didn’t know what to expect out here and I was afraid I might step right into a shark tank or something.
But I have to say, the world looks like a pretty cool place. And you guys—well, you seem friendly enough, I guess. (I wish you’d stop all that grinning, though. Those big teeth are making me nervous.)
You must be wondering why I wrote this letter, huh? Well, actually, I have an important favor to ask. The trouble is, I can’t talk yet. I can scream, you know, but I didn’t think screaming would be a polite way to ask for a favor. You probably wouldn’t really listen, anyway—you’d just stick a bottle of milk in my mouth.
I won’t be a teenager for years, and already we’re having problems communicating!
So I decided to write this letter.
Guys, here’s the thing: I want to be bilingual. (And I want a puppy, too, but let’s talk about that later.)
You see, being bilingual would be good for me, I think. I hear it’s good for the brain—it makes the brain stronger. Maybe I don’t really know what a brain is yet, but I figure it can’t hurt to have a good, strong one, right?
And being bilingual could be good for my future, too. I might have a chance to make more friends and get a good job. After you’ve spent all your money on me, I can help you when you’re old and poor.
Plus, I’m not sure yet if you guys speak two different languages or what, but if you do, I’d like to learn both of them. I mean, unless I can speak the languages you know best, I don’t think I can really know you, or your culture.
The problem is, I can’t become bilingual all by myself. I would if I could—but I’d also change my own diapers, if that were possible, so I wouldn’t have to wait around for you to notice. No one likes diaper rash, you know.
What can you do to help me be bilingual?
Well, first of all, talk to me a lot in both languages. Don’t talk my ears off, okay—I need my rest, too—but the more you talk to me, the more I’ll be able to talk to you, when I’m ready. (And sorry for all the wild tantrums I’ll throw when I get older. Please don’t take it personally when I call you “big meanie” and try to bite you.)
Also, read to me every day, year after year. If you read to me in both languages, it will really help. I’ll learn both languages better, and I’ll learn to read on my own more easily, too. And when we snuggle up together to read, I’ll grow to love books. (Just don’t drop one of those chunky board books on my head, okay? I wouldn’t like that.)
At the same time, do whatever you can to support my second language—the one I don’t use as often. Even when I moan about this stuff, keep going, keep trying. When I’m grown up, and I’m bilingual, I’ll be really glad you did your best. If you give up, I think we’ll both regret it.
Guys, thanks for listening. I’m happy we’re together now. I know everything won’t be as much fun as thumb-sucking, but I’m excited about the future. And most of all, let’s remember to love each other, day and night, like there’s no tomorrow.
Your Newborn Baby
P.S. I want a puppy with floppy ears.
Want to read this in Polish? Aneta Nott-Bower kindly posted a translation at her terrific blog for Polish speakers who are raising bilingual children, called Bilingual znaczy dwujezyczny.
If you’d like to repost this letter on your site, or translate it into another language, just contact me with your request! Thanks!
And take a peek at another tongue-in-cheek post, How to Fail Miserably at Raising a Bilingual Child.