The kiddo is learning Spanish. Three days a week she is going to a Spanish/Venezuelan woman's chaotic and loving home while i am at work -- in prep for the days when she'll attend a dual immersion elementary school. For all its big-city shortcomings -- we really must praise the Portland school district for doing some things right -- like teaching kids another language when they are at a most sensitive age.
I hear the Senora disciplining the kids from the parking lot of her apartment building when i come to pick up the kid -- talking all fast and getting heated in her spicy way. I don't mind the vehemence -- it is not a malicious discipline, and anyway the kiddo listens to her, in spite of the language barrier.
Though three weeks in, i am wondering if there really is much of a language barrier anymore. When my baby sister went to German kindergarten back in the 80's, she was mixing German and English within weeks; ("mom I went to the puppenecke with the Lehrerin") so i assume my daughter's experience is about the same. She seems to understand the Senora, but like the Senora's own children, she answers back en Ingles.
The other night a bunch of friends gathered around my table for dinner and wine. It's a practice that is slowly becoming a Friday night ritual -- so this extroverted mama can still pretend she has a social life, before all her single friends fly off to the clubs to dance and make eyes at men through the smoke-haze. I tag along in my head more often than i do in real life. These dinners also serve a social purpose for the girl -- who alternates between being the center of attention and hiding in her room with her dollies, calling from the room every couple of minutes to tell me what she's doing. She is some kind of mix between the ultimate extrovert and an inward being who desperately needs a few minutes alone every couple hours. At the table this Friday, my sistas started asking the girl about Spanish.
"So do you know Spanish now? Si hablas Espanol?"
"Hola," she replies, "OHHHHH-LAAA!" She has obviously picked up on the universal practice of simply speaking louder, when you think someone doesn't understand your language. So far "hola" is about all she's uttering -- maybe a couple "adioses" slipped in. But when someone asks her a question in Spanish, she answers with the steadfast Spanish she knows...
For that progress, i say "Hollah!"