Lately, my son has been paying frequent visits to my little home office to “brainstorm.” Although he’s always shown an interest in my work, as he gets a bit older (he turns 8 in March), his fascination with the Internet and the wider world is growing keener.
When I’m in the middle of something, I still need to consciously remind myself, as I first shared in Are You Making the Moments with Your Kids Count?, to “engage with every interruption.” But because his interest is so genuine—and he’s at a point where he can better grasp these things—I’ve begun describing the work that I do in more detail.
As a result, he now wants to help: he wants to contribute by “brainstorming” with me and offering ideas. At first, I admit, I didn’t take him very seriously. I simply humored him—this small, toothless boy—and I tried to keep these sessions relatively short. But on Sunday morning he marched in again, chirped “Let’s brainstorm,” and then shared an idea that I absolutely loved.
His idea was this: What if people around the world could somehow pose questions to him and his sister Lulu (the two bilingual monkeys at the heart of all this) and they would respond?
It’s such a simple and lovely idea, but it had never occurred to me. Not only would it enable my kids to become active participants in my work, it would be another effective way of engaging them in the use of English, our minority language, both orally and in writing. (As you know, I’m constantly scheming of ways to boost language exposure!) At the same time, they could connect more directly with others in the world and learn more about the technical side of the Internet, too.
So I acted on it right away. I explained to Roy that it would be hard to sustain an interactive feature like this at Bilingual Monkeys (because it’s a blog), but it could be a natural fit for The Bilingual Zoo (because it’s a forum). At lunch, we discussed the idea with Lulu, who responded enthusiastically, and we decided to call it “Talk to the Monkeys!” That afternoon I built the new forum board and opened it to the world.
So if you or your kids would like to reach out to Roy and Lulu, and pose a question, please ask away! You can ask them anything about their lives (we live in Hiroshima, Japan) and their experience as bilingual children (mainly Japanese and English, but they recently began learning Spanish, too), and we’ll do our best to respond. Your question can be serious or silly, it’s up to you. (You may get a serious or silly answer, too.)
And when you ask your question, could you begin by telling them where you are by naming the city and country? (For example: This is Adam in Hiroshima, Japan…) They’re eager to know where these questions are coming from!
Please note (and this is true): Although Roy is excited about fielding questions from the world, he also expressed fears about questions that he won’t be able to answer, so please don’t quiz him on things like physics or trigonometry.
To ask your questions, just head right here…
While anyone can access The Bilingual Zoo, you need to be a registered member to actively make posts to the forum boards. Membership, though, is free for all. (A small, annual contribution to help maintain the forum website is strongly encouraged, and greatly appreciated, but isn’t required.)
About Roy and Lulu
Although I’ve long respected my wife’s wishes, and my children’s privacy, by not using their real names or posting full-face images of them online, I’ve shared a lot about them over the past couple of years in the posts at this blog. If you’d like to learn more about these two monkeys—and gain more background and inspiration for your questions—here are the highlights to date…