I’m sure you can all recall a few nursery rhymes you used to sing as a child (or sing to your child). I certainly can remember a few, but before I had my son I was unable to recall most of my childhood favourites. The good news is that I have ‘relearnt’ these songs and widened my repertoire, that’s thanks to our regular visits to our local children’s play centers.
In case you are thinking as to what I am doing this 2015/16 academic year, well without any further delay let me explain! Yes, I am full-time mother and often this role is somewhat underestimated. As a professional mother, deciding to take a brief career gap was a conscious decision I made for personal reasons. As a Linguist, I mainly specialize in developmental linguistics, and know that the first few years of a child is critical. Yes, many aspects of child development is part of ‘nature’, but a parents’ role is to provide nurture in a loving and caring environment. In terms of the nurture or environmental component, a baby’s brain develops as a consequence of both ‘experience-expectant’ (e.g. vision, hearing, language) and ‘experience-dependent’ (e.g. socio-emotional and cognitive development) processes.It is these two components which I strive to enrich for his development, as my son’s primary caregiver.
Having said all this, the primary purpose of this post is to provide a partial explanation to those curious about my current situation. Hopefully, when the right opportunity crops up I consider going back to work, but until then my central goal is to spend quality time with my son and educate him AND myself. When I do have ‘me’ time I still actively do research and continue to build the Mehmet Osman Corpus. Trying to balance work with personal life, is probably the most challenging, but my profession is also an integral part of my identity. Although maternal instincts come naturally it is after all a completely new role and takes time to adapt! This is all the more difficult if you are a mid-career professional, since your daily lifestyle, social network, hobbies, and primary and secondary discourse is pretty much established. According to Gee (1990), a person’s primary Discourse is what they are socialised into within their face-to-face kinship group (their family). Our primary Discourse shapes our initial ways of speaking, our ‘normal’ ways of acting, views,
values, beliefs, experiences and our first social identity. Secondary Discourses
socialise people outside of their immediate family groups, within institutions
(social structures) and other forms of social groupings and social practice. My secondary discourse is the discourse I use at work and part of my profession, but with my new motherly role I have had to learn a new secondary discourse. It is precisely this aspect that I have struggled with, as the vocabulary set and all other conventionalized conversation patterns are totally different. The further details of these differences and the specific challenges I have encountered deserves a separate discussion, possibly for a journal article, which I am currently developing.
Nonetheless, being a full-time mother now means that I am singing, dancing, playing with my child and other children, and mingling with other mums; all of these activities have now become a part of my daily ritual. Mind you, I have also realised that English is not the mother tongue of the many children raised here in London. Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Polish, and Arabic are some of the many heritage languages I hear on a daily basis. It is a welcome to be surrounded with such diverse languages and cultures.
Ok, I have to leave now and do some singing Below I have enlisted some of these songs. Those which are incomplete are the ones I already knew by heart, while the full lyrics are the ones I have ‘relearnt’! Oh before I go, I also sing Turkish nursery rhymes, but it’s pretty much limited in numbers and working on that as well!
Twinkle, twinkle, little star. How I wonder what you are…
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands, CLAP CLAP, If you’re happy and you know it stamp your feet, STAMP, STAMP
The wheels on the bus goes round and round, round and round…
Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream…
Rowley Powley, Rowley Powley Up Up Up, Rowley Powely, Rowley Powley Down Down Down, Prowley Rowley, Rowley Rowley Clap clap clap, Rowley Powley Rowley Powley Put Your hands behind you back…
One two three four five once I caught a fish alive, six seven eight nine ten, then I let it go again, why did you let it go? because it bit my finger so, which finger did it bite, this little finger on my RIGHT!
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, We’re going to the moon. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, We’re going to the moon.Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, We’re going to the moon. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ZOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMM!
Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full! One for the master, One for the dame, And one for the little boy, Who lives down the lane
Wind the bobbin up, Wind the bobbin up, Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap.
Wind it back again, Wind it back again, Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap,
Point to the ceiling, Point to the floor, Point to the window, Point to the door,
Clap your hands together, 1, 2, 3,
I am the music man, I come from down your way, and I can play! What can you play? I play the piano! Pia-pia-pia-no, pia-no, pia-no; pia-pia-pia-no, pia-pia-no
Oh, the grand old Duke of York, He had ten thousand men,
He marched them up to the top of The hill and he marched Them down again. And when they were up they were up. And when they were down they were down. And when they were only half way up, They were neither up nor down.
Head shoulders knees and toes, knees and toes, head shoulders knees and toes, knees and toes, and eyes and ears and mouth and nose, head shoulders knees and toes, knees and toes
Elephant has wrinkles, wrinkles, wrinkles, elephant had wrinkles, wrinkles everywhere, on their nose, on their head, on their tummy, on their ears, no one knows, no one knows, why aye aye aye!
Gee, J.P. (1990) Social Linguistics and Literacies, New York: Falmer.