Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The in-between...

Remember   ?
It's not easy to do, and as Nesta grows and is interested in longer stories I'm looking to start purchasing books in Spanish instead. Still, many of the books that we have are hand-me-downs and Nesta loves them. Some of his favorites are the Todd Parr books and the Gossie books. I find these books easy to translate on the spot.
As I was looking at the very limited kid's section of books in Spanish at my favorite books store, I noticed something that drove me nuts instantly. I found Gossie in Spanish, and at first I was so happy, and then I noticed something. The title, the name of the main character, the one I have left alone as I translated everything else, the main mojo of the thing IT IS DIFFERENT!!!! Instead of Gossie the name of this new gosling is Gansi. What? WHAT? When I moved to the United States I did not start spelling my name with an H! Well that might be a bad example, but still. Why change the name? I understand that Gossie is a name in English, and it describes a gosling, and Gansi is short for gansito, but I cannot do that to Nesta. Nesta has met Gossie, he has not met Gansi. I showed him the book, and I said Gansi and he said Gossie. I understand that after many reads he will get that there is a Gossie and a Gansi and that they are the same gosling, just like he understands that there is a mesa and a table and they are the same thing. Still, I'm annoyed.
Needless to say, I"m not purchasing Gansi, mainly because I already have it in English and it is an easy book to translate. What really bugs me, is that Gertie's name is unchanged. Why didn't they change it to Gertrudis?
I guess there will always be something lost in translation. The in-between where bilingual folks live, the in-between place where I'll have to take Nesta to or where I'll have to watch him go and discover on his own. The Limbo that lives between our cultures, our language and our identities. That seemingly lonely place, that I hope with time he finds it's not so lonely and really fun to discover. The place that at the end of the day will help him see who he is and who he's not. No comparisons, only you and all that you represent. Something you cannot translate.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


When raising a child bilingual I think most parents may worry that their child may be learning more of one language than the other. I think I mentioned it before, but to me Spanish immersion is so very important because he already is immersed in English. Now that we allow a bit of TV watching, most of the shows are in English. Although, there are shows in Spanish everything else is in English. Our neighbors speak English, our friends speak English, the radio is often in English and so on. Nesta's language growth in Spanish was going great, and I knew an English language growth spurt was coming. Between 18 and 20 months Nesta was surrounded by English speakers more than ever: his grandparents, aunts and cousin. This allowed for his English language to grow extensively. 
Did this freak me out? OH YES! I knew it would happen, but when he would speak in English to me I would try so very hard not to be upset. I know that this language growth is needed, after all he is a bilingual child (two languages Cristina, two!).  
Since we arrived in Oakland I've noticed that Nesta understands that there are two or more words for one thing. I did not know when this would happen and it honestly took me by surprise. One day while at the dinner table, Nesta was banging away at the table and talking some nonsense and suddenly he looked at me and said mesa as he pointed to the table. I responded by saying si, es una mesa (yes, it is a table). Then he looked at his dad and said table. Tho which his dad responded yes, this is a table. From that day on I observed and listened to him when he spoke to his dad. Then we both realized that when he speaks to me or his abuela he speaks in Spanish, and when he speaks to his dad he speaks in English. His dad speaks in Spanish to him as well, but Nesta most often responds in English. I'm sure he's heard me speaking English, yet he speaks in Spanish to me. Now, we've noticed that when interacting with other people he has to yet decide what language to speak to them. First, these other people may not understand Nesta-speak yet so they often try both languages with him which may be confusing for him. It may also not be confusing at all, this I do not know. What I do know is that he can get his message across. While interacting with a friend of ours, Nesta wanted more of something. Nesta said more, when he got no response he said mas and when he got no response he signed more. Then he got a response. Today he did the same thing with his dad. I had never heard him say ice-cream, because we use the word helado more often. He asked his dad for mas ice-cream. Maybe Nesta thought that saying it in English to dad would have more of an effect and that he would actually get more. 
There are things that he only says in one language or the other. For example he knows the colors pink, red, green, brown, purple, blue, gray, white, and orange in Spanish. However, yellow he only says in English. I know amarillo is hard to say, and he has tried it but he likes to say yellow instead. Some thing he knows well in both languages is counting 1-10. With dad he counts in English and with mom he counts in Spanish. I have heard him say uno, dos, eight... when playing around. 
It's no joke that at this age children are like sponges and literally pick up everything, I mean EVERYTHING! It's almost dangerous, but so amazing at the same time. The things you can teach your child if you sit down for a half hour with them. 
I know around this age (23 months) toddlers are able to remember songs, and they do. Nesta can sing the Elmo song,  Itsy Bitsy Spider (in Spanish) and El Marinero Baila. I'm sure there are more songs that I cannot remember, or songs that he sings with his abuela like La Cucaracha. He also remembers dance moves and copies mannerisms. This age is just so amazing. I'm sure there are so many things that I am missing that he can now do. I just think the fact that he is speaking two languages is so amazing, and all that hard work is beginning to show. I remember feeling crazy speaking in Spanish to my baby. I knew it was the right thing to do, but for some reason I felt odd. I felt odd because my husband couldn't understand what I was saying. I felt odd because I had to translate what I had just said to my 2 month old so that his dad would be included, so that I didn't feel alone. It sounds weird, but it was weird. 
I've talked to many parents who started speaking a language other than English to their children and then gave up because it was hard. It sounds silly, but it is hard. It still is hard. It will only get harder when the reading and writing begin.  
Now, I have to do my research for dual-language schools in Oakland.... didn't I just do this ? :D

Monday, December 2, 2013


Just recently saw a post by my friend Amanda Arellano in her blog Cruisetocruz and it gave me an idea. I've been on the verge of tears lately (of happiness) because my baby is about to turn 2 years old in seventeen days. I feel as though this birthday of his is hitting me a bit harder than the first year. This second year has been so fun and the growing he's been doing has just amazed me. His little gentle personality blooms every day and I am just so thankful to be his mom. Every day I wake up with his smiling face next to me, and his easy going attitude allows me to take everything in and relax . Nesta is such a joy to be around, and I couldn't believe my life without him.
I remember the days when he would fall asleep with his eyes open (yikes!) and I would worry about things like that, or when he would scream in the car seat during a 5 minute drive. I was a nervous wreck with this baby and sometimes I didn't know what to do with myself or with him. All I wanted to do was feed him and make sure he peed and poop. It's so funny how one changes as a parent. Now, I just want to get home from work and play with him, sing, dance and read. I am thankful for our mini-conversations. I am thankful for the million kisses I get and the million hugs that follow. I'm no longer a nervous wreck because I've gotten to know my son and I LOVE the little person he is and the man I know he will become.
I'm thankful for the mess of legos we pick up together (well..) and for the paintings he creates with his fingers as he smears "ashul" on me. I am thankful for the songs we sing and how he's actually singing.. and well it's soo cute. I'm thankful that he chose me to be the one to change his poopy diapers (really, I'm flattered). I'm thankful for the times he reads to me and shows me that he has listened to us as we read to him . I'm thankful for the hugs he gives Albert (rather than a yank at his tail.)
I'm thankful for those little hands that grab my face as he bumps his forehead to my lips to receive a kiss. I'm thankful for his little voice that says "mama" as I walk in from work. I'm even thankful for the disagreements that we have- because it takes a lot to say no to your mama.
I'm so excited for the years to come and to watch this child of mine grow.
However, it is very difficult to watch him grow and to know that the decisions that we make for him will be probably more difficult than "breast-milk vs. formula." I know Nesta will make it seem very easy for us, and I just hope that he grows up to be the man that he wants to be.
I love you Nesta Bob- always and forever.
                                                       Nesta at the public library in Nashville.
                                                    Nesta at his grandparents's house in Brown Co.
                                                       Nesta and mama in the golf cart.