Friday, February 19, 2010

Sientate en tu silla.

Lately I have been struggling with P's commitment to raise SS bilingual. I am terribly impatient and not good at teaching anything. Then there is the concern that SS is lagging as it is due to her circumstances. But wait there's more, the entire responsibility rests on my shoulders. Plus, there's the "she's an American, she should only speak English" crowd. Intellectually I realize that SS should be behind her peers in speech. It should not bother me, but it does. And maybe the fact that P is so committed when I do all the work gets on my nerves. While I do admire his desire and determination to have a child fluent in Spanish, I have been very tempted to throw in the towel so many times. Sometimes I wonder what difference it will really make in her life, it's just Spanish, not Mandarin.

A few weeks ago we attended a multicultural event at a local high school. It had been a tough week for me with SS in the language department. The key speaker asked how many in the audience were bilingual. He urged those who raised their hands to pass on that gift to their children. Not the day to hear that. It would be easier if SS was surrounded by other Spanish speakers, but it is just me. Since I am so concerned about her English development, I end up saying things twice, and that is a drag. When P comes home from work, I mainly grunt, do not want to talk unless necessary. Other times, I drop the Spanish completely, upset at my inability to form a bilingual phenom. And it does not come natural to me. Before SS came along, I only spoke Spanish at work when required with my clients. No Spanish speaking friends, just my communication with Abu. Language is very use it or lose it. I sometimes challenge P to step up and learn the darn language, which is unfair, since he was raised within an educational system that places very little emphasis on acquiring a second (or more) language. It has always puzzled me why we wait until the window for optimal language learning is closed (estimated to be about 10 years old) to introduce a second language as an educational requirement. And that is part of P's desire and determination. He wishes he was bilingual, has given it his best since the eight grade, and is still struggling.

I was rigidly introduced to a second language at age five, not by choice, but by design. My educational system required both languages to be taught. But, it is still very possible to graduate twelve years later with a minimal command of English. I lucked out, because it was important to Mami and Papi, and they made that clear to me. They would ask me about my homework daily, but paid special attention to my English homework. They would ask me what I learned, and made me repeat it for them. Wait, did I just come full circle? Mami and Papi did not know a word of English. But it was obvious how proud they were of my learning progress, and the heck if I was going to let them down. The responsibility rested on my teacher's shoulders, but Mami and Papi were committed and determined. What the heck, I should give it a try.

This morning SS woke up with a craving for scrambled eggs. She was playing with her kitchen (gosh, she loves that thing), turned to me and said "mas huevos." More eggs? You have not had any yet. SS was very antsy while I was making her eggs. I absentmindedly said "sientate en tu silla," without other cues, because my brain was not fully functional. Before I could follow up, SS made a beeline for her high chair and climbed on it. HUH? Things are getting through? I was so excited that after SS was shoveling eggs into her mouth I called P. He was really excited, so proud that SS understood that very simple request and followed through. It was really neat to hear the pride in his voice over something so small. Just like it was so neat to hear Mami's and Papi's pride over my very minimal progress.

SS polished three scrambled eggs (not all on her plate here).

SS's dilemma, she loved her toast with jelly, but did not want the sticky stuff on her fingers.

Iron Chef SS's new creation, "fresas fritas"

Cleaning and inspecting her carrots.

Outfit from the grandmothers and in the never say never category. Despite P's edict against anything Smelmo, D*sney Princess crap (except mighty Ariel), B@rney and the Teletubb*es, this one had to be worn. It's a size 24 months, the top won't fit much longer, but the overalls will fit for the next two years.

And she does make it look good.

SS trying to keep up with a kiddie song.

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