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First Words & Ketchup

Written by Karl Dahlfred on .

Do you know what a TCK is? TCK means third culture kid and is coming to replace the term MK (missionary kid). Joshua is a TCK. A TCK is a kid who grows up somewhere between one culture and another, not really feeling fully at home in any culture. Along these lines, Joshua is making an interesting beginning in life as he interacts with us and the world around him here in Thailand.

We are still waiting for his first English words but he has a few Thai words that are very clear and very frequent. Although we think he has said "Dad", "ball", "amen" and "book", all of these have been one time occurrences. His favorite word is "nam" which is the Thai word for water. However, he uses it not only when he wants water, but when he wants milk, or grilled pork sticks, or sticky rice, or that tasty cherry children's Tylenol, or the toy we stuck on the top shelf, or just about anything. And sometimes he just wants water. We'd love for some English words to come out too, and eventually they will. In the meantime, Dad is just about pulling out his hair trying to figure out what kind of "nam" he wants - Is it water? or a toy? or that other toy? or just to get down from his feeding table? or is he just saying it to practice? Nam, nam, nam, nam, nam....

As part of my campaign to help prepare Joshua for the United States, I decided to introduce some typical American foods to his diet. Although grilled pork sticks and sticky rice seem to be his favorite food, I have successfully introduced hot dogs, ketchup, and Oreos. One morning I made pancakes for our family but with Joshua, they were a complete flop. He batted them away, saying "mai ow" (Thai for "I don't want any"). "Mai ow" is another favorite phrase and I am sure that with time he will also become adept at using "mai ow" 's English counterpart, "No". Our hope is that he will grow up and be able to speak both Thai and English fluently, but we'll have to wait and see how that goes. Some kids take to their parents language and reject the language of the host culture, some embrace both, and some fall somewhere in between. In the meantime, I still need to figure out what kind of "nam" he wants now.

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