My husband told me a story of something that happened recently and I asked him to share it with you. Here's my husband:
Hey there! My name is Touger (Tub Ntxawg). A few weeks ago, I picked up my mom and my 16 year-old brother to chauffeur them around town to run some errands. My mom told my younger brother to sit in the front passenger seat and my mom sat in the back.
While driving around town, my brother and I were chatting and just catching up on life (all in English of course). Before I knew it, we finished the errands for the day.
On our way back home, my mom started to cry silently in the back seat. I turned to my little brother to ask him, "What did we do?" He looked at me and gestured, "I don't know."
My step dad passed away earlier this year so I thought maybe she was sad because she was thinking about him.
I turned around and gently asked her, "Nam, vim le caag koj quaj os?" ("Mom, why are you crying?").
She was quiet at first but then she responded in Hmong, "I'm sad because the both of you are only speaking in English. I'm sitting back here and it's as if I don't even exist..."
I felt horrible! I immediately apologized and told her that from there on out, whenever I was with her or around her, I would only speak in Hmong.
So far, I've stuck to that promise. In an English speaking country like America, our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents can feel so unwanted, unheard, and so alone.
By simply being more intentional about speaking Hmong to them and around them, we can show them that we love and value them as we continue to hold on to their heart language. This isn't about trying to please them. Rather, it's about letting them know that they matter. I want to show my mom that she matters.
In one sense, that is what HmongBaby is all about. Yes, we want to teach our kids Hmong but even more than that, we want to show our parents and grandparents that they are loved. One simple way to do that is by passing on the Hmong language and culture to our kids :)
I'm curious, how do you parents react when they hear you speaking Hmong on a regular basis? Let me know in the comments!