Conversations at Casa López – Part 4

casalopez-2

Today I bring back this series with my family’s most recent “bilingual moments” and funny conversations. (Be sure to share your recent funny conversations in comments!)

Tracy: Whatcha doing cutie pants?
Carlos: Not much—
Tracy: I was talking to Chico.

Carlos: Look, the guy at the Latino market gave me the merchant copy. [Shows me a receipt]
Tracy: Why is this the American copy? Did you want it in Spanish?
Carlos: What?
Tracy: Why are you calling this an American copy?
Carlos: No, I said MERCHANT copy.
Tracy: Oh, it sounded like you said ‘MURICAN copy.

“Mommy help! Get him off me! He’s hurting me with jalapeño breath!”

- My older son being pinned down by my younger son who was breathing into his face after eating pickled jalapeños

Tracy: Hey, this book says Mexican women don’t shave their legs. I’m moving to Mexico.
Carlos: Um, that sounds… anticuado. How old is that book?
Tracy: Published…(turns pages)… 1972. Oh.

Carlos: I’m going to cut the grass.
Tracy: It’s Sunday. That’s bad karma.
Carlos: But it needs to be done.
Tracy: Ay ve vos.
Carlos: Well I can’t now cause you jinxed me.

Tracy: Can you grab me a wad of paper towels?
Carlos: Huh?
Tracy: Can you grab me a wad of paper towels?
Carlos: A watt?
Tracy: A wad!
Carlos: What is that?
Tracy: Tanate! Can you grab me a tanate of paper towels?
Carlos: Why didn’t you just say that to begin with?

13 year old: Hey Daddy, have you heard of that singer Macklemore?
Carlos: Yeah, he’s from Soyapango.
13 year old: You say everyone is from Soyapango!

Carlos: Ooo, you got Abuelita chocolate!
Tracy: Yup.
13 year old son: Who’s the old lady on the package?
Tracy: Abuelita, of course.
13 year old: Oh.
Tracy: Hey Carlos, isn’t that the same lady in the Pedro Infante movies?
Carlos: Yup, that’s Nana Tomasita.
13 year old: Let me guess, she’s from Soyapango.
Carlos: Nope. She’s from Chalate.

10 Gifs For Parents Raising Bilingual Kids

Parenting is one of the biggest challenges there is, and bilingual parenting can be twice as hard. Here are 10 animated gifs only parents raising bilingual kids will understand. Laugh, cry, be entertained – I know you feel me.

#1. When your bilingual child is just a baby everything is new and awesome. Mixing the languages together is totally normal and totally adorable. So your reaction when your baby speaks Spanglish is something like:

so-cute

#2. Fast forward 10 years though and your child is still not fluent. Your child’s Spanglish at this stage of the game may have become somewhat less enchanting.

weep-die

#3. But then one day your child says their first curse word in Spanish, (and you know they learned it from you.)

amazing

Hey, at least they’re speaking Spanish.

#4. And then comes that magical age when they get to pick a foreign language at school. The child you’re raising English/Spanish bilingual tells you they want to take… French.

wait-what

#5. Okay, okay. We must embrace all language learning. It’s fine, they can learn French. Maybe they’ll be trilingual you say to yourself. But then they ask for help with their French homework and you discover your mouth will only pronounce French words following Spanish-language rules so you’re completely unhelpful.

blooblah

#6. At some point you realize hey, we’re not speaking enough Spanish at home, so you try the famous “I won’t acknowledge you unless you speak Spanish” tactic.

wont-hear-it

#7. However your child’s reaction to the “I won’t acknowledge you unless you speak Spanish” tactic is:

ok

#8. Time to get stealthy. You decide you’ll try to sneak Spanish into your child’s life by listening to Spanish-language music in the car.

botas-picudas

#9. However, this is your child’s reaction when you listen to Spanish-language music in the car right before they put their earbuds in.

dont-want-to-hear

#10. You’ve all but given up until one day your teenager develops a crush on a native Spanish speaker at school and suddenly takes a renewed interest in learning the language.

Frank-Underwood-Saying-Welcom-Back-House-of-Cards-S2-E1

Apachada

I always share Carlos’s English mistakes, so it’s only fair that I share when my Spanish goes terribly wrong.

First let me explain: This past weekend was really busy, mostly in a good way because I did a lot of things I wanted to do, but there was one obligation I wasn’t really thrilled about, and that was a meeting at 8 o’clock in the morning on Saturday. The meeting was a mandatory part of an academic program our oldest son is in, and at least one parent was supposed to attend.

So on Saturday, Carlos dropped me and our older son off for the meeting and then he went with our younger son to have an oil change done on the car. The car ended up needing a few hundred dollars in repairs to pass inspection so Carlos texted me and let me know he was going to be late picking me up.

I confess, I was kind of grumpy Saturday morning. I had wanted to sleep in, I was at a boring meeting where I’d be stuck for who knew how long, I had a cold on top of allergies and felt miserable, plus Carlos and I had skipped breakfast. Carlos was stressed about the car repairs and I’ll admit, I was being a little (uncharacteristically) needy because I didn’t feel well. Only a hilarious misunderstanding could cheer me up, thankfully those are abundant in our family.

Two things you should know:

#1. The place where the meeting was held is down the street from the hospital and we have eaten in the hospital cafeteria as a family a few times, even when we had no reason to be at the hospital. Strange but true. (The food is good and it’s not expensive.)

#2. I mention someone named “Sue” – That’s a friend of ours from Mexico. I adore the way she speaks Spanish and am always picking up new vocabulary from her, (or at least attempting to.)

Here are the text messages that followed. (My texts are in blue and his are in white.)

text1

text2

text3

text4

¿Cómo se dice SPORK?

spork

Over the weekend we got some takeout food for dinner. At home, I dumped the bag of sauce packets, napkins and plastic utensils onto the table.

“Hand me one of those forks, please,” Carlos said.
“It’s not a fork,” I said, holding it up.
“Hand me… one of those thingies,” he said.

(Carlos’s English includes the word “thingies” since apparently I say that a lot.)

“It’s called a ‘spork’ – It’s a spoon-fork, see?” I handed the plastic utensil to him.
“Spork, okay,” he said, taking it from me, more eager to eat than to get a vocabulary lesson.

I took a bite of my food and chewed thoughtfully.

“How do you say ‘spork’ in Spanish?” I asked.
“You don’t,” Carlos answered.
“There’s no word for ‘spork’?”
“No.”
“Oh!” I became excited. “Hold on, okay, let’s see… In Spanish, ‘spoon’ is ‘cuchara’ and ‘fork’ is ‘tenedor’ so a spork could be… CUCHADOR!”

I fell in love with the new word immediately.

“You can’t do that,” Carlos said.
“What?”
“You can’t just make words up.”
“I just did! This is a cuchador! And I’m going to go tell the whole internet!”

After dinner I went online and typed “How do you say ‘spork’ in Spanish?” just to make sure Carlos was right, that there wasn’t already a word that existed. To my amusement, Carlos was wrong and there is actually already a word… and it’s ‘cuchador.’ I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t invent a new word, but I’m impressed that my bilingual brain came up with the correct word by putting together what it already knows. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try!

Raising Bilingual Teens & The 5 Stages of Grief

funny bilingual parenting comic by Latinaish.com

“Tenemos que hablar más …porque… tengo que pensar… por… cada… palabra,” my 15 year old son told me recently in halting Spanish as we walked around the international market. His Spanish is good but far from fluent.

Our 12 year old speaks even less than our 15 year old although he understands everything I say to him and voluntarily plays Club Penguin in Spanish, “just because.” He also switches to Spanish to get my attention. On a daily basis you can hear something like this in our house:

“Mommy, can I have a cookie?… Mommy… Hey, Mommy… Mamá, quiero una galleta.” — to which I finally answer him. Some parents do this on purpose so their children don’t speak English at home, but in my case, sometimes I’m just so focused on what I’m doing that I tune everyone out. Only the jolt of unexpected Spanish is what breaks my concentration.

Despite the fact that Spanish and Spanglish are still spoken on a daily basis in our household, we’ve begun to speak it less and less. I’ve said before that raising bilingual children “takes constant commitment and re-commitment” but it feels like we’ve been hitting pretty hard on the frequency and necessity of re-committing this past year.

You see, in my experience bilingual parenting, unlike most things you practice, does not get easier. In fact, I would argue that bilingual parenting only gets more and more difficult the older your children get.

Think about it – when your children are very young, one of the first questions they learn and repeat ad nauseam is, “What’s that?” … For parents raising bilingual children, even if the target language isn’t your native language, things start out pretty easy.

“What’s that?”
– Una manzana.
“What’s that?”
– El color verde.
“What’s that?”
– La luna.
“What’s that?”
– Un gato.

What a sense of accomplishment! You’re doing it! You’re really doing it! You’re raising a bilingual child!

Of course, the reality is that the older your child gets, the more complex his questions. Apple, green, moon, and cat are part of your vocabulary and now your child’s – no problem, but how do you answer:

“Where do babies come from?”
“What’s the difference between a Republican and a Democrat?”
“Why don’t birds get electrocuted when they sit on power lines?”
“How come it looks like the moon follows me when we drive in the car?”
“What’s endosymbiosis?”
“What exactly is a black hole?”
“What does ‘birth control’ mean?”
“Can you explain antidisestablishmentarianism?”
“If ‘X’ equals 32.4 and a train is traveling at 68 miles per hour…”

Nevermind answering those questions in Spanish – I may need Google’s help, (and a few aspirin) just to answer them in my native language! Apple, green, moon and cat will no longer be sufficient.

As a parent attempting to raise bilingual children, making mistakes along the way, and having setbacks, you often tell yourself, “It’s okay, there’s still time” – and yet, that time does run out, which is what you face as a parent of teenagers.

So, this is where we stand at the moment. We keep trying and will fight to the end to raise bilingual children, but I am at a point where I’m forced to accept that unless I drop them off in El Salvador for the next couple years, they most likely will not be native speaker fluent.

If your children are tweens or teens, you may be beginning to go through “the five stages of grief” if their Spanish isn’t as perfect as you had hoped. For me, it went something like this:

1. Denial – My kids are totally bilingual! They’re doing great!
2. Anger – Why aren’t they replying in Spanish! Whose fault is this?!
3. Bargaining – If they can just speak Spanish really well, not even perfectly, I’ll be happy.
4. Depression – This is my fault. I’m a failure as a parent.
5. Acceptance – I’ve done my best and will continue to try my hardest. All the effort has been worth it, and I’m okay with the result even if it falls short of perfection.

Just know that wherever you’re at on this bilingual parenting journey, you’re not alone, and like any other aspect of parenting, you’re not always going to get things exactly right.

Most importantly of all, don’t give up.

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.”
– Elbert Hubbard

T.V. en Spanglish

inglesespanol

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Carlos estaba mirando la televisión y yo estaba escribiendo, cuando escuché este anuncio bilingüe. Yo grabé el anuncio para que todos ustedes pudieran verlo también. ¿Tal vez algún día todos los anuncios en los Estados Unidos serán bilingües?

¿Qué opinas tú? ¿Te gusta ver los anuncios de televisión bilingües más que los anuncios monolingües?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Carlos was watching television and I was writing, when I overheard this bilingual commercial. I videotaped the commercial so all of you can see, too. Maybe some day all commercials in the United States will be bilingual?

What do you think? Do you like to watch bilingual television advertisements more than monolingual advertisements?

Conversations at Casa López – Part 3

Here are the latest “bilingual moments” and funny conversations from Casa López!

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“Mira el niño bajo de la blanketa.”

- My 11 year old pointing out a kid hiding under a blanket

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Me: You’ve been eating so many apples lately.
Carlos: I love apples.
Me: I can tell.
Carlos: I’m like that guy you told me about, Johnny Apple Cider.
Me: Johnny Appleseed.
Carlos: I’m a different guy. I’m his cousin.

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Me: What else do you want me to pack in your lunch?
Carlos: Tex Mex.
Me: Huh?
Carlos: Tex Mex.
Me: I… didn’t cook any Tex Mex?
Carlos: The one in that cabinet.
Me: Oooooh. CHEX MIX.

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11 year old: Mommy, remember that girl in Kindergarten who could only speak Spanish?
Me: Yeah, I remember her. How is she?
11 year old: She speaks English really well now!
Me: Oh, really? That’s good.
11 year old: Yeah, she speaks well but she has an accent kind of like Daddy when he says ‘stop’, like ‘estop.’
Carlos: Hey.

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Me: Go wash your hands in the sink but try not to make a mess.
11 year old: Can you please speak English? I don’t know what you’re saying.
Me: I was speaking English!
11 year old: Well then, that’s just weird.
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Carlos: I thought you said the dog would calm down after the nudity.
{The kids bust out laughing}
Tracy: Um… neutering?
Carlos: Nudity?
Tracy: NEUTERING!
Carlos: NUDITY!
{me and the boys laughing}
Carlos: You said the dog would calm down after they fixed him.

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Related Posts:

Conversations at Casa López
Conversations at Casa López – Part 2