The gig is up in our Kinky Gazpacho household. Not so long ago, our nine-year old looked me straight in the eye and asked, "How come Papi can understand you when you speak English but not us?" And I knew right then, that it was all over. Not long after that I heard my son tell his grandfather, "Papi speaks English but we're not allowed to speak to him in English. We have to speak to him in Spanish. That's the rule."
The way he said it, made El esposo and I sound like language Nazis. Like we'd punish them with a hard smack with a ruler if they dared to utter a word of English to their dad.
Now we slip into that territory where the children know Papi speaks English so speaking Spanish is no longer a necessity, it's something that (ugh) we're making them do. And kids don't often embrace those activities billed as "for their own good." At least my kids don't. (Nose picking? Running down the stairs? Hitting big brother? It's all fair game for my boys.) They still pretty much only appreciate, fast, easy and fun. They're kids so I get that, but still I want them to learn their father's language. Add to this awful development that we've pulled them out of the Spanish Immersion school they'd been attending. Now they are students at a delightful, yet monolingual, private school closer to home. Spanish is taught, but only once a week and let's face it, my kids could be teaching that class. In fact, the Spanish teacher at the school -- a wonderful woman from Costa Rica -- has designated both of my boys to be her special helper in the classroom. My older son is in charge of quizzing his classmates!
Have I doomed my babies to a single-language life? I swear I can already hear them slacking off in their sentence construction and the vocabulary is going very Spanglish. Yikes. Short of moving to Spain for a year, what do you all suggest to keep their Spanish alive and kicking? To keep them motivated to learn and love the language. I'd love to hear your ideas, especially as the kids get older and they want to communicate more complex thoughts and they might not have the vocabulary to express themselves.
Estoy escuchando. I'm listening.