My Kids Speak Bulgarian

I haven’t spoken Bulgarian on a daily basis in 10 years. Were I put in a room today with someone who only spoke Bulgarian, I’d probably have a hard time understanding them, let alone putting together a comprehensible sentence. The last time I attempted to speak it with a native Bulgarian was on my honeymoon with Marathon Girl. We ate at a Bulgarian restaurant in Las Vegas and I managed to order a meal and carry on a basic conversation with the waitress. The waitress was so floored that an American could speak Bulgarian, she rewarded Marathon Girl and I with some complimentary Bulgarian deserts after our meal.  The only word Bulgarian word I use on a somewhat regular basis is stiga (pronounced STEE-ga). Translated it means Stop it! or Enough! When used on context, you say it to a misbehaving dog or other animal. You never say it to a person. At least that’s what Bulgarians told me.

Of course how one is supposed to use the word doesn’t stop me from using it at my kids when they’re fighting or misbehaving. If they don’t settle down I’m more than likely to use the world stiga than “Knock it off!” or “Quit fighting!” For some reason the word just works better in my mind for the point I'm trying to make to the kids.

I didn’t realize that the boys even understood the context of stiga (or how much I used the word) until Aidan and Steven were fighting over a toy last week. Steven was upset that Aidan wouldn’t share and tried to take it from Aidan. A mighty struggle ensued. Once Aidan realized Steven wasn’t going to give up the fight for the toy he yelled “Stiga, Steven!” at which point Steven backed down.

After I got over my initial shock that Aidan said a Bulgarian word, I took him aside and explained to him that stiga wasn’t English and that most people wouldn’t understand what he was saying. I then told him I’d try to speak English when I was talking to him and Steven.

Of course that little talk did nothing to dissuade Aidan from saying stiga several times since then. And I still catch myself using it even though I quickly follow it up with a “Stop it, boys” or “Quit fighting.”

The whole incident has been another reminder for me what an example parents are to their kids and how we constantly do things that they pick up on – even if we’re unaware of it. I should be glad that it’s just a Bulgarian word my kids have picked up on. If I was a swearing man no doubt Aidan and Steven would pick up on that too. I’d much rather have them stay stiga than swear words.

Hopefully any other bad examples I’m unconsciously setting for them aren’t becoming part of their daily habits too. If they are, not doubt they'll show up very soon.