Many of you know that I'm not a Welsh speaker. You may have heard me waffle on about how sad that makes me, I probably speak better Spanish & French than I do Welsh and I've lived here my whole life.
My story with the Welsh language is a funny one. My Mother is a first language Welsh speaker, so are all her family who live in a very condensed area surrounding Machynlleth. My Father was born in Porthcawl and though he does not speak Welsh fluently, this does not hinder him when he argues with my Mother over the right way to say 'this or that'.
I was born in Welshpool, I lived in the small village of Forden for my first 7 years before moving to Newtown where I stayed until I left for Uni. When we moved, I remember my Mother making enquiries about the local Welsh school, I remember there being no places and it being quickly dropped. The Welsh language did not seem a big deal in my childhood, even on those Sundays I'd spend tucked away in my Nain's lounge, nibbling on egg sandwiches made with the thinnest home baked bread. I'd eat and listen to the hum of chatter seeping from the kitchen, no clue what they spoke of or even much desire to learn those adult secrets.
I remember my Grandparents speaking English to me when I was much older but as a child, I can clearly remember listening to their whole Welsh sentence before racking my brain to understand one or two keywords that would let me unlock the rest. I answered in English. Always.
Like you probably, I studied Welsh at school. I never aced my homework. My Mother argued 'black was blue' when it came to Mr Ireland and his 'University Taught Welsh' but despite her hatred for this improper use of her language, I passed.
You wouldn't guess it from my lacklustre speaking history with Welsh, but I feel a knot in my stomach whenever anyone asks me "ti'n siarad Cymraeg?". I've looked into learning and either been prohibited by cost or time. Sad but true.
So here I am. A Welsh Woman. Not a Welsh Speaker, living with an English man.
From the time I conceived, I longed to Welshify my child. It started with the name, which never really happened. then there was his first WRU onesie, lovingly bought by my Father, who popped him into it for each six nations game in 2016. I often wondered how I'd get my point across to James that I felt deeply that our child should learn Welsh. I mean, he is Welsh. He was going to grow up feeling about Wales like I do right?
James and I actually spent longer discussing what sports team our child would want to play for than we did about what language he should be educated in and I don't say that to trivialize it. I poured forums and blog posts, we've discussed it on The This Welsh Mother page and I checked and checked with many people who had already followed this path before me.
James' ease with my thoughts on the Welsh language quite honestly shocked me.
"If we lived in France he'd have to learn French, wouldn't he. I don't think it's any different."
and while that view point won't work for everyone. It was the starting point for us.
We enjoyed visits to our local 'Ti a Fi" good before connecting to a local Meithrin, Welsh language nursery. I think whatever method you choose for your child, YOU need to be comfortable with it and as soon as I visited our nursery, I knew it was the one.
We are now starting our second term and despite us never really speaking welsh to my Son at home, I have caught him counting to himself in Welsh (actually he counts better in Welsh than in English) and also sying 'Hwyl' to my parents when they leave. It's so cute.
As we are both self-employed, he doesn't need to be in Full-Time Childcare yet. He now attends three, half-day sessions and he seems really happy and always runs in there without giving me a second glance.
We've discussed the Welsh language for kids over on the Facebook page and I know so many of our readers were contemplating Welsh medium education for their kids so I thought a little update on our own journey might help you because I know lived experience was something I was looking for when I had questions.
I plan to improve my own Welsh language skills this year too and have enrolled in a week-long summer school in July. I'm actually really looking forward to it.
If you have any questions why not head over to our Facebook page, it's where we keep all the conversations going. You can find it by clicking HERE