Spanish Summer: La Piscina

Tomorrow marks two weeks since I began speaking only Spanish to mis niños. It’s getting a little easier for me, but if I don’t begin to mix it up a little, I think that by the end of the summer they will only learn verb tenses for making demands such as “Clean your room”, “Behave and eat your food”, and “Go play!” … I never realized that being a mother is akin to being a dictator at times.

One obstacle we’ve run into is that I have no privacy when speaking to the niños when Suegra is around. It isn’t like I’m constantly bad mouthing her to the kids, but sometimes I want to tell them something that isn’t her business. To do this, I switch to English, and Suegra is immediately suspicious and paranoid when I do that. It has created some tension, to put it mildly.

Yesterday, to escape the negative energy in the house, I took the boys swimming. Because thunderstorms were approaching, the pool was nearly empty which is a luxury I don’t take for granted. I grew up in a house with my own pool and now that I’m subjected to the horrors of public pools, having it to myself is a rare and appreciated occasion.

The water felt cold under an overcast sky, but after a few minutes, we got used to it. We swam in relative peace under the bored gaze of three lifeguards for awhile and then some more people showed up. It was an Anglo guy and his son. The little blond boy was probably about 5 years old, and with that typical 5 year old energy, he bounded into the pool, splashing and squealing, shattering my hopes for a quiet swim.

“Want to play with me?!” he said to my sons. My boys are 8 and 11, but they’re kind, so they obliged, at least for a little while. When they grew bored with the baby games, they swam out to deeper waters to join me. After a few minutes, the little boy began calling them earnestly from the shallow end of the pool.

“Hey guys! Come back! Come play with me!”

The father of the boy relaxed in a lounge chair, making no attempt to silence the boy as he called after us over and over again.

The boys looked at me pleadingly. “Don’t make us go back, please.”

I answered in Spanish, “Diga le que estas descansando y puedes jugar más tarde.” (Tell him that you’re resting and that you can play later.)

My 8 year old cupped his hands around his mouth to amplify the sound and called out, “¡¡MÁS TARDE!!”

My 11 year old and I burst into laughter and my 8 year old had no idea why.

“You just told him in Spanish, baboso!” My older son told his little brother.

My 8 year old cupped his hands around his mouth and called out again,



  1. So funny. Did I mention we’re doing it, too? I had no idea how much English we spoke before this. No wonder they aren’t good at Spanish. Well, I shouldn’t say that. My daughter can translate anything…I never knew she understood so much…she has been translating for the middle kid, who still yells, I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU’RE SAYING!…but he’s actually getting better whether he’ll admit it or not. I’m not sure why he’s so against spanish.

    We play this game their abuelo taught us:
    Real quick, I say, “Quien quiere _________? Uno, dos, tres, ….and if no one says “yo!” I say, “nadie.” So you fill in the blank with any word…like helado, dulces, etc. but I like to change it up and add chicotitos, or dormir. It’s actually hilarious if this is understandable and good for their vocabulary. Your kids are a little older, so it might not be as funny for them.

    • @ Susan – I played something similar with my 8 year old the other day. The 11 year old is not so amused by “games”. LOL… Right now the big challenge is getting them to respond to me in Spanish. Their comprehension is excellent, but they keep speaking English. I need to think of a way to change that. Maybe if I pay $1 to the kid who remembers to speak the most Spanish during the day… Sad, the sort of bribery I must resort to. LOL.

  2. I had read your blog in the past and it’s always refreshing and/or hilarious — always a great read. I loved the stories about your suegra and her curious habits, like wearing underwear inside-out. This Spanish summer thing is such a great and respectable idea, I know a lot of Mexicans who moved to the US and never cared to have their kids learn Spanish as well as English. I think a bilingual person has (more fun and) more chances to succeed professionally.

    • @ Florentino – Thanks so much for your kind words. I agree with you on the rewards and fun of being bilingual. I can’t imagine it not being this way. Just think of all the people in this world we’ll never know because we don’t speak their language. I wish I could speak them all.

  3. That’s so cute!! You’re amazing!! Oh, and I can relate to you a lot with your Suegra but me with my own mamá living in the house, I know how things can get!!

Note: You are not required to sign in to leave a comment. Please feel free to leave the email and/or website fields blank for an easier commenting experience.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.