I absolutely adore Tracy’s posts that share the hilarious, family moments that make up her bilingual household. I can relate so much, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to add a few of our own family’s multicultural conversations.
I’m an American girl, born and raised in the South. I am “bilingual-friendly,” meaning I know just enough Spanish to be dangerous. My Guatemalan husband Billy and I are raising our two bilingual-ish kiddos in Atlanta, Georgia. Here are few of our favorite Spanglish-y moments!
Me: (looking around the parking garage) Okay, we’re parked in Aisle 8.
Billy: THAT? (pointing at the sign) That. That is how you spell aisle?! Eye-eez-lay???
Billy: (hanging pictures) Does it look straight?
Me: Hmm… I’m not sure. Are we sure we want them there? Maybe a little higher?
Billy: (handing me a hammer and some nails) Go kill yourself!
Me: Um… What?
Billy: It’s an expression. You know…
Me: Oooh, knock yourself out!
Me: (reading a picture book in Spanish)
4 YO Daughter: Mom, please stop. I know that you don’t speak Spanish.
When dad has two languages, and mom has only one, you get this:
4 YO Daughter: My daddy is my Papi. And my mama is a big girl!
At a fruit stand in Los Angeles
Me: Hola. Por favor quisiera piña, sandía, mango, y coca.
Vendor: (eyes widening) Coca? Quiere coca?
Billy: No, no, no. Ella quiere coco.
Basically, I ordered a bunch of fruit and then “coke,” which, similar to English, is also slang for cocaine. I just wanted some coconut!
Me: Where are the chips I asked you to buy?
Billy: (hands me a bag)
Me: (putting away the Ranch dip) Awh, man. I asked you for chips, not tortilla chips!
Billy: Wait. What? You wanted potato chips? But you asked me for chips, not potato chips!
Stranger at the airport: Are you going to Guatemala?
4 YO Daughter: No, no. I’m going to Wat-te-ma-la. Wat-te-ma-la is Spanish. Gwah-tuh-mall-uh is English.
Thankfully, this kind man turned to my husband to ask if we were raising her to be bilingual and then offered some sweet encouragement.
Sitting in the OB/GYN office with our first pregnancy.
Me: “I’ve been having Charlie Horses at night.”
Billy: What are those?
Me: Leg cramps.
Billy: Why don’t you call them leg cramps?
Me and the midwife: I don’t know!
The midwife: Have you been having any Braxton Hicks?
Me: I don’t think so.
Billy: What is that?
Me: False contractions.
Billy: Why does everything in English need a first and last name?
My daughter’s toddler friend trying to work out our bicultural household:
Well, her mommy’s name is Sarah. And her daddy’s name is Papi.
We were visiting a Spanish church for the very first time. I was about seven months pregnant.
Stranger: Bienvenidos! (Rubbing my belly with both hands.) Hola bebito!
Billy: (looking at my panicked face and laughing) We’re not in an English church anymore! (leaning in towards me in mocking compassion) Do you want to go hide in the corner?
Me: (eyes wide, nodding) Yes!
Sarah Quezada lives in Atlanta, Georgia in a talkative, Spanglish household with her Guatemalan husband and two amusing kiddos. She writes about culture, family, and immigration on her blog, A Life with Subtitles. Sarah is a big fan of travel, basketball, and peppermint patties. You can connect with her on Twitter or Facebook.