is better, that we know for sure, but success doesn't always come easy, and
some days it doesn't come at all. So for those of us who aspire to raise
bilingual kids in a monolingual home, celebrating small successes is vital to
our long term objective of bilingualism.
month, as my daughter turned three, the awareness that her Spanish vocabulary
was comparable to that of a one year old struck me like a ton of bricks. While
her level of comprehension and articulation in English rivals that of children
years older, her blank stares in response to my grandmother's long distance
phone calls make it painfully obvious—bilingualism is a long way off. I felt
the defeatist sentiment brewing; who was I kidding? I wanted to quit my
bilingual efforts right then and there.
a bicultural Latina, I know first hand the benefits of being raised bilingual.
After years of suburban beach living, I ease naturally into my American life.
My thoughts race in English, almost as quickly as the words land on this page, pero
cuando mi corazón anhela por familia y amor, it does so in Spanish. So how
can I deny that birthright to my children? Bestowing the gift of bilingualism
is one that I will forever be tasked with as a mother, regardless of how
success is defined.
of giving up, I've decided to give in and embrace our bilingual journey as it
exists today. I've learned that success shows up when you're looking for it,
and even if in small measures, all achievements in bilingualism should be
celebrated. As of today, that means that my three year old knows her colors in
both English and Spanish. That she responds to simple directives, like: ven acá,
siéntate or oye chica, no te voy a decir otra vez. As of
today, that means that my ten-month-old gives me besitos when I ask him
to, that I'm teaching him where his nariz, bocayojos
are when his little manito caresses my face. That when nothing else
seems to work, and a mother's voice singing Duérmete Mi Niño is the only
way to sooth my infant son, I will choose to celebrate the small successes in
my desperate hope of bilingualism and identity.
bilingual kids can be so much more than just raising kids to speak Spanish, if
you remember to celebrate the small successes. Bilingualism is about raising
more tolerant world citizens. Exposing kids to Spanish can be about raising
descendants who are conscious of traditions and family legacy that existed
before them. So, when I find my three year old speaking complete gibberish to
her dolls, when she happily proclaims, "Mama! I'm speaking Spanish!" I choose
to celebrate that success with her. She's earned it! And so have I.