They told me that the kids would pick it up fast. I just didn’t believe them.
I figured we would be talking about forks and tacos by three months, toilets and pyramids by six, piñatas and potato chips by nine and, if we were on a roll, maybe we could count to 100 and order poc chuc con cebollas by year end without batting an eye.
I’m pleased to report that all five of us are tracking ahead of schedule.
As for the kids, they are now doing so well in Spanish that they are starting to say strange things in English. Rachel told me she needed the stick of a popsicle for a class project last week. A peculiar phrase for a phases of the moon project but I wasn’t totally alarmed. Then today, Jacqueline said she had cake of chocolate at school. As if that was a normal way to describe a cake. My ears perked up as she went on to tell me that she was bitten by an ant medium during recreo. Mira, she said as she showed me her finger.
En serio? Que paso a mis hijos? I thought to myself.
Then tonight I got a message from Marisela, Rachel and Ryan’s tutor. She secretly records their conversations from time to time for our enjoyment. Today she told me that Ryan was running on and on about the recent political election in Yucatan. “Sorry I didn’t record it for you.” For mother’s day he wrote me a love poem in Spanish that I would suspect was counterfeit except that I am pretty sure he told me he loves me more than bacon which could not come from the lips of anyone other than his.
As for Kary and me, we limp by, doing our best to learn as we go and not say horrendously ignorant things to complete strangers. That said, one of us who will remain nameless recently declared to another one who will remain nameless but who is our Spanish teacher, “I am a truck.” I think this is quite an endearing thing to say, insightful and honest, and really, no pasa nada, claro que si. This slip of tongue is nothing compared to the silly things I have said about my own feelings or state of being over the past year such as, “My elbow is really greasy and hungry, sure?”
We ask the children for help when we are out and about but they look at us like we are crazy and they don’t know us. We work hard at it though, I must say. Not to appear crazy but to learn Spanish. Twice a week we spend with our teacher Svetlana, learning past tenses, future tense, imperative tense, yelling at children tense, irregular verb conjunctions, phrases, adverbs, adjectives and field vocab such as ‘how far is it to the jail?’ and ‘was that a one-way street officer?’ Our rolling homework assignment (tareas) is to write down a page of phrases describing what we did, are doing or will be doing this week. She no longer accepts “My name is Darcy.” and “My cat is green.” She rewards the phrases I write concerning recent traffic violations and conversations with heavily armed policemen but I see it in her eyes that she fears any association as having taught me Spanish. I remind her, it’s okay Svetlana, they never come after the teacher, it won’t be your fault for what I said. Todo bien.
Today, with Kary out of town, I spent my lesson on the complex but common “modo subjuntivo” which is apparently used all the time by everyone except for yo. The good news is you only have to know this one if you use the words <when> or <that> in a sentence. That doesn’t happen all that often so I’ll be fine, subjectively speaking.
Truth is, when it comes to learning a new language, it’s as if the more I learn, the more I know I don’t know.
And I’m okay with that.
That, I am okay with, and. Subjectively.