(Today is Spanish Friday, in which I blog in Spanish. Need an English translation? It’s down below!)

Yo estaba diciendo a mi hijito que él dejaba un papel en mi escritorio que necesitaba por la escuela. Recientemente, ni modo si estoy super fustrada cuándo los niños no entienden mi español, yo me rehúso a cambiar a inglés. Es frustrante pero así es la vida bilingüe, no?

Por lo tanto, le repetía a mi hijo,

“La papel está en mi escritorio.”
“La papel que quiere tu maestra está en mi escritorio.”
“What? Can you just say it in English, Mommy?”
“Tu maestra, tu profesora, en la escuela – ella quiere la papel que está en el escritorio en mi habitación – la dejaste allá.”

De la sala, mi suegra elevó la voz, “EL PAPEL!”
“¿Qué?” Me molesto por la interrupción.
“EL PAPEL! … Estás diciendo ‘la papel’ … es EL PAPEL.”
Oigo su risa. No me importa ser corregida, sino porque ya estoy fustrada, su risa me hace sentir defensiva. Me decido a ponerla en su lugar.
“Estás riendo pero ni sabes cómo decir papel en inglés!” dijé.

Antes de que podría sonreir de satisfacción, ella gritó otra vez desde la sala,
“Y no es ‘PAPER’, pues?”


I was telling my youngest son that he left a paper on my desk that he needed for school. Lately, no matter how frustrated I get when the kids don’t understand my Spanish, I stubbornly repeat myself, sometimes changing the phrasing slightly – but refusing to switch to English even when they ask me. It’s frustrating but that’s bilingual life, right?

So I kept saying to my son,

“La papel está en mi escritorio.” (The paper is on my desk)
“La papel que quiere tu maestra está en mi escritorio.” (The paper your teacher wants is on my desk)
“What? Can you just say it in English, Mommy?”
“Tu maestra, tu profesora, en la escuela – ella quiere la papel que está en el escritorio en mi habitación – la dejaste allá.” (Your teacher, your professor, at school – she wants the paper that is on the desk in my room – you left it there.)

From the other room, Suegra pipes up, “EL PAPEL!” (The paper!)
“¿Qué?” (What) I snap, annoyed at the interruption.
“EL PAPEL! … Estás diciendo ‘la papel’ … es EL PAPEL.” (The paper! You’re saying ‘la papel’ – it’s EL papel.)
I hear her giggle. I don’t mind being corrected but because I’m already frustrated, her giggle makes me feel defensive. I decide to put her in her place.
“Estás riendo pero ni sabes cómo decir papel en inglés!” I say. (You’re laughing but you don’t even know how to say paper in English!)

Before I can smirk in satisfaction, she yells from the other room,
“Y no es ‘PAPER’, pues?” (It’s ‘paper’ isn’t it?)


Participaste en Spanish Friday? Deja tu link en comentarios!
Did you participate in Spanish Friday? Leave your link in comments!

36 thoughts on “EL PAPEL

  1. As usual, I can relate to your post . . . being Latinaish myself :-) My 7 year old son has been giving me much static about Spanish claiming that at least in terms of telling me stuff about school, that he doesn’t know how to say it in Spanish. Mostly not true because once he tries, he can say most of it and maybe has to ask me a couple words. Like you, I refuse to budge, so either he has to say it as best he can or we suspend the conversation until he’s up to it! I can also relate to messing up the gender of a simple word – why are there just a few that seem so tricky! And your suegra chiming in – too much!

    • Laura, I haven’t gotten to the point where I force them to answer me in Spanish – but the day is coming!

      As for word gender – ARGH! So aggravating. lol

  2. Good one for Spanish Friday! Love that you keep at it, with the kids. They’ll appreciate you for your perseverance later :)

  3. Tracy, too funny. I can totally see why you’d get frustrated. Do you think he was playing with you? My son pretends sometimes not to understand me when I talk to him in English!

    He’s fortunate enough to have grandparents who speak Italian to him and an abuelita, living with us, who speaks Spanish. And although he’s fluent in English, he won’t speak a word of either Spanish, or Italian.

    Thank you, by the way, for your kind words at Latinaish. Your post was excellent. Totally and completed resonated with me.

    Por que estoy loca, I’m including a link here to my first attempt at writing something in Spanish. It’s a whopping seven lines of poetry that sound absolutely awful once translated into English.

    Thank you so much!

    ( http://ezzylanguzzi.blogspot.com/2011/04/mi-primer-my-first-spanish-friday.html )

    • Hola, Ezzy! I don’t think my son was playing with me but he was just being a little lazy. He wanted to go play video games and was distracted. He knows all the words I was using and usually understands even more complicated phrases the very first time I say it… That’s why I refuse to switch to English! :)

      I’m so glad you participated in Spanish Friday! I visit everyone who participates and it makes me so happy to see people practicing their Spanish along with me.

    • @Ezzy – I tried to comment after your poem but since I don’t have a URL I couldn’t make it work. Love your poem! Would love to have my mom do in calligraphy for my daughter who I adopted from Guatemala . . . keep writing!

    • Ezzy – De nada. I do not have a blog – I just like to read everyone else’s! En cuanto a los nenes, son dos. La nena que le comente que es de Guatemala y el nene que es biologico asi que es de descendencia mexicana de parte de su papa y una mezla de paises de europeos de mi lado!

  4. Hahaha!! Your suegra rocks! She is a little smarty pants, no? Maybe she understands more English than you think?!
    That would be… not great? ;)
    Ay Treysi, as always, thank you for the laughter!
    Great post!
    Abrazos y feliz spanish friday!

  5. Hi, my name is Lorraine and I came across your blog a couple of months ago. I’m “Latinaish” too! :) My suegra came to visit us last fall and stayed for two months. I love her, but…. we definitely had our moments. As far as the Spanish thing goes, it is VERY irritating to be corrected when you are already frustrated about something. It’s like, can’t they just let it slide sometimes? Anyway, your post made me chuckle and get just a little molesta right along with you. Que tengas un buen dia!

    • Hola Lorraine :) Thanks for introducing yourself. Can’t wait to check out your blog. It’s always fun to see what other “Latina-ish” women have to say since it’s so easy to relate :)

    • Thanks, Tyeisha. The idea of being a comedian would appeal to me if I weren’t so shy – but thank goodness for the internet so I still get to have fun making people laugh :)

      I’ll be over to check out your post!

  6. Ay, ay, ay! Your suegra cracks me up! :)

    And I think it’s great that you refuse to switch to Enlgish. I need to do the same thing with my kiddies when I speak to them in English. :) Gracias por tan buen idea. :)

    • LOL – That is really weird for me to imagine, (needing to make sure my kids are fluent in my native language… Wow. I wonder if it feels weird to Carlos. I never thought much about it before.)

  7. Great post! Ahhh suegra! She is hilarious Tracy! Your son sounds like mine……… even when he understands, he acts like he doesn’t. What? what? what? but i keep repeating myself in spanish, correct or not!

  8. ok Traix… aquí te va una prueba:
    El Mar o La Mar?
    El Calor o La Calor?
    La Gripe o La Gripa?
    El Foco o La Foca?
    El Caballo o La Caballota?
    La suegra meque o La meque suegra?

  9. Oh, I love this post! The ONLY time my husband corrects me is when I’m frustrated! I hate it! He never takes the time to correct me when I ask, b/c he doesn’t really care and has come to fully understand my gramatical mistakes like that. But when I’m frustrated he smirks and corrects me! UGH!

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