It was never our intention to lose the Hebrew. We really tried to keep it alive. To tell you the truth the first couple of years it felt weird talking out loud in English. You always feel like you are making one mistake after the other, you forget all the lovely words and expressions you know and are left with the same English a ten years old has, and that is on the good days. And the accent, don't get me started on the accent. I still feel my accent is a weird combination of idiotic and Russian. And when you feel like that, why would you want to volunteer putting yourself through it? Add to that the fact that our vocabulary in Hebrew was bigger and more profound (not like a ten years old), the fact that it is part of our identity, what comes out naturally when we open our mouths, and the feeling of utter betrayal.
A language is so much more than just words, and when you move to a new country it is sometimes your last connection to the place you left behind, where you felt you belong, where you felt you are understood. Where you never felt like a ten years old.
Then another year or so goes by and the kids are embarrassed when you talk Hebrew next to their friends, so you start talking to them in English when you pick them up from school, or when you help them with homework because they have to understand it in English and besides they don't know what you mean when you say weird Hebrew words. And when you talk with people in Israel they use slang and references and words you've never heard of because your Hebrew got stuck somewhere around 2009, and one day you find yourself saying something about how much easier it is to write an email in English.
And still you don't notice it, until one day your parents come for a visit and say "Orli, did you notice that the boys answer more in English when we talk to them?" "No. Of course they don't. You are getting senile. And your hearing is bad". But then you start listening and you notice that it is true.
Then comes the day when you have to face the fact that there is no more room in the house, and if you want the boys to have somewhere to put all those Christmas gifts you need to clear some space, and your the corner of your eye catches those hundred books in Hebrew you bought for them over the years and you realise that they are there so you would feel better, that you would feel like there is some chance that someone will read them.
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Even when you know it in your head, even when you can rationalise the decisions (It will be enough of a challenge teaching Yon to read English with his eyes, we won't even try with the Hebrew), even when you know that understanding the language is more important than talking, or reading and that writing is last in that sequence, even then it still knock the air out of your lungs. Even then you still feel a little piece of your heart breaking.
We gave away all the books, and DVD's. We tell them to answer in whatever language they want, and find we talk to them more and more in English. Because when you stop and think about it, the thing we want most is a connection with our kids. All the history, traditions, and invisible chords won't be worth it if my kids won't feel they can talk to me. In whatever language they choose.