Sometimes I think I have the bilingual parenting thing down. We get into a groove and I’m speaking Spanish to my kids and they, more and more, are responding to me in Spanish – but it’s inevitable that just when we’ve hit our stride and are on the road to fluency, we will have a setback.
One big problem for me is that I don’t speak Spanish when I’m stressed or tired or very busy. The other day I woke up and realized, “My God, I’ve been stressed and tired and very busy the past few weeks! I’ve had so much on my mind and so many deadlines. I’ve barely spoken Spanish to my kids at all!”
This is when I kick myself in the nalgas and promise to start all over again.
Yesterday morning before my younger son left for school, I warned him not to run to the bus as he usually does, because a slick layer of frost covered the ground.
“Cuando venga el bus, no vayas corriendo, okay? El suelo está bien liso, entiendes?”
My son tilted his head not unlike a dog when you speak to it. I could almost see the words enter his ear, twist themselves inside his brain and translate one-by-one into English. He spoke aloud as he decoded the message.
“When the bus comes… don’t run… because…the ground is slippery?”
He still understands me, but there is more lag time. Then when he speaks, he doesn’t even realize he’s mixing English and Spanish in ways I’ve never even heard before.
After school he asked me what day we’re going to his grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving.
“El viente dos,” I said.
“Oh, el twenty dos,” he answered.
There’s no point in lamenting wasted time and stalled progress. I’m human, I was tired, I spent weeks speaking very little Spanish to my kids who I desperately want to be fully bilingual. It happens. Seguimos adelante.