Koopa: Mama, why is it that not everybody speaks Russian?
me: Well, that’s because not everybody’s parents speak Russian. But many people speak some other language at home. That’s often because they or their parents originally come from some other country. For instance, your friend Isabel speaks Spanish because she was born in Spain where everybody speaks Spanish, and your friend Ben speaks Persian, that’s because he was born in Iran where everybody speaks Persian.
Koopa: Does everybody speak Russian there?
me: No… they don’t speak Russian there… See, sometimes a person is born in one place but he speaks the language of the country where his parents come from. And often they still have family back in that country and they go visit there. So, for instance, your friend Ann Gee speaks Chinese and has relatives in China that she goes to visit sometimes, and Ben sometimes goes to Iran to visit his grandmother…
Koopa: Yeah, and I go to Israel to visit my grandparents. Does everybody speak Russian in Israel?
Ugh. Now, how do I explain to my child that he speaks the language of a country that he has very little connection to, has never been to, and has no reason to ever go to? Well, that is what we are, Wandering Jews, and you are one of us, little Koopa.