Category Archives: niños
“¿Qué onda, vos?” pregunté a mi hijo mayor una tarde cuándo venia a casa de la escuela.
“Mira mamá, te tengo una sorpresa,” dijo mi hijo con algo escondido detrás de su espalda.
“¿Qué es?” pregunté.
Mi hijo reveló un sombrerito negro, decorado con lentejuelas. En purpurina color verde, blanca y roja, estaba escrita la palabra “BICENTENARIO.”
“Ah, de México, es. Qué bonito,” dije, “¿Dónde lo econtraste?”
“Lo gané por tener la calificación más alta de mi clase de español,” dijo con orgullo.
“Wow, qué bien. Muy bien,” dije yo, “pero a dónde vamos a ponerlo? Tu papá no le va a gustar.”
Después de unos minutos, dicidimos ponerlo en una estantería llena de libros y chucherías.
“A ver cuántos días le toma por encontrarlo,” dije sonriendome.
Bueno, más tarde entró Carlos a la casa después de un día trabajando. Me dio un beso y empezó a platicar por unos minutos cuándo él paró de hablar muy abruptamente.
“Ey,” dijo, frunciendo el ceño, “¿Qué es esto?”
En menos de quince minutos lo ha encontrado.
“What’s up?” I asked my oldest son one afternoon when he arrived home from school.
“Look, Mom, I have a surprise for you,” said my son with something hidden behind his back.
“What is it?” I asked.
My son revealed a little black sombrero decorated with sequins. In green, white and red glitter the word “Bicentennial” was written.
“Ah, it’s from Mexico. How nice,” I said, “Where did you get it?”
“I won it for having the highest score in my Spanish class,” he said proudly.
“Wow, that’s great. Very good,” I said, “but where are we going to put it? Your Dad isn’t going to like it.”
After a few minutes, we decided to put it on a bookshelf full of books and knick-knacks.
“Let’s see how many days it takes him to find it,” I said smiling.
Well, Carlos later came home after a day of working. He kissed me and we started to chat for a few minutes when he very abruptly stopped talking.
“Hey,” he said, furrowing his brow, “What is this?”
In less than fifteen minutes he had found it.
The first year we made cascarones, I didn’t have any dye so I tried to decorate the entire egg with colored tissue paper and glue. It was messy and they didn’t turn out very pretty, so this year I decided to do it the right way and dye the eggs. I bought your typical $1 kit with colored tablets for egg-dyeing at Easter time – a package that is familiar to me from childhood. However, because these kits are meant for American-style Easter eggs, they come with additional items you don’t need for cascarones which apparently perplexed my 10 year old.
Him: What are these for? [picking up stickers and cardboard egg holders]
Me: We don’t need those. Those are for making American Easter eggs.
Him: You put stickers and these thingies on them before you break them on someone’s head?
Me: No, [laughing] You leave the egg in the shell and cook them – you know hard boiled eggs?
Me: Then you dye them, put stickers on them, and these little cardboard thingies are so you can display them until you eat them.
Him: You eat them?! That’s weird!
It kind of boggles my mind that my 10 year old couldn’t remember what regular Easter eggs are – I mean, I made them with them before? When they were little? In the past? Didn’t I?… I don’t remember anymore. Apparently, in recent years I’ve done such a good job of teaching the boys Latin American culture that I now need to step it up with showing them Anglo-American traditions from my own childhood.
I recently learned a fun game which teaches kids how to tell time in Spanish. It’s kind of like the English-language game of Mother May I. At first I thought maybe my kids were too old to play these kinds of playground games, but my 10 year old was laughing and having so much fun that my 13 year old came into the living room to see what was going on. He watched us for a few minutes, getting an idea of the game and then say, “Hey… Can I play?”
Here’s how you can play with your niños, (big and small!)
¿Qué hora es, Señor Zorro?
One person is “Señor Zorro” (Mr. Fox.) This person must go to the opposite side of the room (or yard if you’re outside), as the other players and turn his/her back. (If you want to make it even more difficult, Mr. Fox can get on their hands and knees.)
The other players ask, “¿Qué hora es, Señor Zorro?” (What time is it, Mr. Fox?)
Señor Zorro answers with a time, such as “Son las ocho.” The players take the corresponding number of steps, (in this case, eight steps.)
At any point, (usually when the players are close enough to catch), Señor Zorro answers the question, “¿Qué hora es, Señor Zorro?” with “¡Es hora de comerte!” (Which means “It’s time to eat you!) An alternative version is to say, “¡La hora de desayunar!” At this point Señor Zorro turns and chases the other players, trying to catch one.
If Señor Zorro catches a player, that player becomes Señor Zorro – if not, Señor Zorro and the players return to their spots and start again.
My 13 year old is going on a field trip this week to a museum in DC and because buying food at the museum is cost prohibitive, I’m packing his lunch.
This is new territory for me because under normal circumstances our kids don’t bring a packed lunch – they buy lunch at school. I carry a little guilt about this since my mother usually packed my lunch when I was a kid. In a plastic lunch box or brown paper bag I could expect either a turkey, baloney or peanut butter sandwich, a Hi-C juice box, an apple and/or carrot sticks, some type of snack cake, and once in awhile, a note written on my napkin telling me how loved I am.
This lunch is different from what I pack for Carlos – arroz con albóndigas, tacos, escabeche, galletas María, semita de piña … I can’t pack these things for my 13 year old, can I? Sure, he eats them here at home but – in public? Around gringos? … I think about a story I read on TikiTikiBlog.com about what it’s like to bring “ethnic” food for lunch when your gringo classmates bring “normal” things.
The dreaded grade school lunch trade – when my ethnicity was undeniably made public, with the contents of my lunch making who, and what, I was unmistakable.
I wanted to blend in, to be one with the bologna and mayonnaise sandwich crowd, the chocolate chip cookies, the plastic bottles filled with Sunny-D.
But nothing screamed “Not One of Them” louder than my sliced white goat cheese and Goya guava jelly sandwiches, with a chunk of pineapple thrown on top for extra Latino measure.
Oh the squeals and screams of the other non-Latino children as they recoiled — as if watching a horror movie.
- Alexandra on TikiTikiBlog.com
This is what I don’t want my son to go through – although popular and well-adjusted, he already deals with people asking him if he’s Mexican and if he’s related to George López. And so, while at the grocery store picking items for his lunch, I stood, feeling kind of torn, in the middle of the aisle – a bag of all-American Cracker Jack in one hand, and a bag of plantain chips in the other. He likes both equally. Do I strengthen his identity or allow him to blend in?
I decided I would buy both and let him choose, but I couldn’t wait until I got home to find out which he would take in his lunch. I put the bags into the cart and texted him.
Field trip snack – Cracker jack or plantain chips?
Thirty seconds later, he texted back.
I found myself smiling – but does this mean anything? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it means he’s confident in who he is. Maybe it means I’ve done a good job of instilling Latino pride into my boy. Maybe it means he’s not worried about trying to fit in and refuses to succumb to peer pressure… or maybe it means he’s just in the mood for plantain chips.
I have to say though, he asked if he could pack a semita de piña as well and I won’t pretend I’m not happy about it.
Mi hijo mayor está tomando clases de español. A veces su libro de texto de esta clase me recuerda el libro de texto que yo utilize cuándo tomé clases de español, pero en unas maneras es mucho mejor. Por ejemplo, no recuerdo aprender nada de El Salvador en mi libro de texto, pero el libro de texto de mi hijo es más diverso – La semana pasada me enseño esta página que habla sobre El Salvador y las pupusas!
Mi hijo estaba super orgulloso cuándo sus compañeros tuvieron que aprender sobre su cultura.
My older son is taking Spanish classes. Sometimes his textbook fro the class reminds me of the textbook I used when I took Spanish classes, but in many ways, his is better. For example, I don’t remember learning anything about El Salvador in my textbook, but my son’s textbook is more diverse – This past week my son showed me a page that talks about El Salvador and pupusas! My son was super proud when his classmates had to learn about his culture.
Image source/Copyright: ¡Avancemos! Level 1 – McDougall Littell
Ultimamente Carlos y los niños han jugado un juego de FIFA fútbol en Wii. A mi me encanta mucho el fútbol pero no entiendo cómo uno puede pensar que este juego de video es divertido. Agitando un control remote de el Wii no tiene nada que ver con pateando una pelota de fútbol, pero Carlos y los niños sigan gritando “gooooool!” como están ganando la Copa Mundial.
Lately Carlos and the boys have been playing a FIFA soccer game on the Wii. I love soccer very much but I don’t understand how one can think that this video game is fun. Shaking a Wii remote control has nothing to do with kicking a soccer ball, but Carlos and the boys continue shouting “goooooal!” as if they’re winning the World Cup.
Check it out!
My 10 year old recently discovered “Nyan Cat” – also known as, “Pop Tart Cat.”
He likes cats and weirdness, so he became a little obsessed. Soon he was playing Nyan Cat games and watching Nyan Cat videos.
The other day, while seeking more Nyan Cat thrills, he came upon the Mexican Nyan Cat.
“Do you like it, Mommy?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’s cute,” I said.
“Do you want a Salvadoran Nyan Cat? I’ll find you one!”
I explained to him that because Mexicans are the dominant Latino population in the United States, a Salvadoran Nyan Cat wouldn’t exist, but I appreciated his thoughtfulness. Minutes later he called me back to the computer.
“If I found a Salvadoran Nyan Cat would you want to blog it?”
“Sure, but honey, I already told you——”
Here is an excerpt from an article about a recent study conducted by University of Alberta researchers Elena Nicoladis and Cassandra Foursha-Stevenson. The purpose of the study was to find out whether bilingual French/English children assigned gender to objects differently than monolingual children. (They did, but not quite how you might imagine. Strange!)
The researchers showed objects or images to the children participating in the study and asked them whether the objects seemed to be masculine or feminine in nature. While the unilingual children seemed to identify most objects as masculine, many younger bilingual children were willing to consider that, globally speaking, some objects could be feminine in nature even though, Nicoladis says, “their categorizations didn’t correspond very well to whether the objects were masculine or feminine in French.”
My hypothesis before conducting the research would have been that bilingual children would identify more objects as being feminine, but that it would correspond to the object’s pronoun in their second language, so I’m surprised that it didn’t quite turn out that way.
I know that my husband Carlos definitely uses feminine pronouns in funny ways in English. While chasing a housefly he might say, “She’s too fast!” because “fly” (“mosca”) is a feminine word in Spanish.
I hope they repeat the research with English/Spanish bilinguals to see if there’s a difference.
El otro día, mientras estaba leyendo el libro “Buenas Noches Luna”, mi hijo de diez años hizo una cosa maravillosa – ¡Él pronunció las erres perfectamente en español!
Claro que celebré y felicité a mi hijo. El único problema es que ahora él quiere lucirse con su nueva habilidad, y está pronunciando todititas sus erres como Walter Mercado.
The other day while reading the Spanish version of “Goodnight Moon” – my 10 year old son did a marvelous thing – He rolled his R’s!
Of course I celebrated and congratulated my son. The only problem is that now he wants to show off his new skill and is pronouncing every single “R” like Walter Mercado.
If you’ve raised a child, you know that as they’re learning to speak, they make a lot of really cute mistakes. It could be a grammatical error, or a word misunderstood and used inappropriately, but for someone like me who adores everything about linguistics, it’s one of my very favorite things about childhood. (Raising bilingual children means one gets a double dose of these sweet slip-ups!)
At some point though, your children get older and their language abilities improve. The mistakes become few and far between so when they make one, maybe, just maybe, you don’t correct them. You can’t stop them from growing up, but you can selfishly make it last a little longer.
I still remember years ago at the table. My younger son asked what we were having for dinner.
“Enchiladas,” I said.
“Lavas? I hate lavas,” he responded, crossing his little arms over his chest.
My older son, ever the know-it-all, corrected him, “Not LAVAS! EnchiLADAS!… Geez, if it was lavas you’d burn your mouth all up!”
But that was about eight years ago. At thirteen and ten years old, my boys are growing up and those days are fading fast. Fortunately, I still have Carlos.
Don’t get me wrong – Carlos’s English is fantastically proficient these days, but there are still a few words and phrases that I haven’t really corrected over all these years. Here are a few I wrote down the past couple weeks. (It took me a couple weeks to listen to him in daily conversation and compile the list because at this point, some of this phrasing is starting to sound normal to me!)
Wings – Carlos never uses the word “underarm” or “armpit” – instead he uses, “wings.” … In Spanish, it is accepted slang to refer to them as such. (At least in El Salvador.) And so he’s just directly translated “alas” – the Spanish word for “wings.” This one has even caught on with my Anglo parents. When they heard him use it with our first son as a baby, they couldn’t resist adopting its use into their own lexicon.
Example: [Said to one of our sons before they shower] – “Don’t forget to clean your wings! You smell a little stinky.”
Pass the vacuum – This is another direct translation. In Spanish there isn’t a verb for vacuum. You say “Pasar la aspiradora” (or more common in the United States, the Spanglish version, “Pasar el vacuum.”) Because of Carlos, the kids actually say “pass the vacuum” in English and think it’s totally normal.
Example: “I’m going to pass the vacuum. The boys got dirt on the carpet.”
Joke hard – I’m not even totally sure about this one because I’ve started to use it over the years, too. What is meant by ‘joke hard’ is to joke around with someone and tease them in such a way that you’re almost crossing the line into making them angry.
Example: “That guy likes to joke hard with people, but he doesn’t like it when others make fun of him.”
You passed me your insert illness! – This might be acceptable in English although I would say we only use it to refer to cold/flu germs. Whenever Carlos falls sick or has any sort of injury though, you can be sure he will be blaming family members left and right, telling them that they ‘passed’ their illness onto him, whatever that illness might be.
Example: “My back hurts. You passed me your back problems!”
They exaggerate too much! – In Spanish, it’s common to say “los precios son exagerados” – (the prices are exaggerated) – so I think that’s where he got this one from.
Example: “Are they kidding? Ten dollars for that?! They exaggerate too much!”
Your shirt looks like a cow chewed on it. – Carlos has no patience for wrinkled clothing. Wrinkled clothing is totally unacceptable. This weird phrasing is the direct translation of “Parece que la vaca masticó tu camisa” – which apparently is a perfectly normal way to make fun of someone’s wrinkled shirt in El Salvador.
Example: “You can’t wear that to school! Look at it! It looks like a cow chewed your shirt!”
Respect the table! – If the boys are being rude at the dinner table, it’s not tolerated. Like Carlos, I expect good manners, but when Carlos shouts, “Respect the table!” – it is terribly difficult to keep a straight face. The boys also want to giggle, but they don’t dare. “Respeta la mesa” is a normal request in Spanish but in English it would be better to say, “Mind your manners!”
Example: Hey. HEY! Respect the table! I don’t think you want me to take off my chancla.