Tag Archives: bilingual parenting

The truth about Raising a Bilingual Kid

The truth about Raising a Bilingual Kid

It’s definitely not a topic we’ve ever shied away from, but it is one we’ve given a lot of thought to. Especially as parents of a bilingualish teenager. See what I did there? It’s a play off of the hit TV show Blackish, in case you’re wondering. What I’m talking about is Raising a Bilingual Kid.

Y’all know I’ve written at length about that topic over the years, haha! So how does one follow up so many blog posts about the same topic? With a video, of course!

That’s what we’re talking about in our latest video from YouTube (we have a channel there, by the way… in case you want to subscribe – we’d greatly appreciate it). Take a look and let us know what your best tips are for raising a fully bilingual or bilingualish child.

¡Chinelas con estos huercos!

We had Nintento.

Kids today have Vine.

We had VCRs.

They have bluetooth and DVD players.

We had cassette tapes and then CD players.

They have iPods and iPhones.

We had beepers.

They have iPads and tablets.

We had watches with cartoons and superheroes on the wristbands.

They have smartwatches with cameras and touch screens.

Today, Edgar saw me playing with Vine and said “hey, is that Vine?  One of my friends in class is on Vine.  She asked me if I had a Vine too.”

Sigh… they’re in elementary school.

I know.  That’s kind of hypocritical of me considering how much I employ social media and networking sites on a constant basis… and considering the fact that sometimes Edgar is in my pictures and videos too.  But come on!  Elementary school!

I tried to deny it, but he didn’t believe me.

Oh well, he’s still not getting an account.

¡Ya mero!  ¡Nomás lo que me faltaba!  

The generational differences in Latino families are funny

The generational differences in Latino families are funny
Loaded for vacation by Hans Hansson.

So the other day my sister, her husband and her kids were getting ready to go out of town.  They had packed, loaded up the truck, and we were all just sitting around talking and laughing while they finished getting ready to leave.

My sister has two teenagers, one preteen, and the baby of their family who just recently hit double digits in her birthday celebrations.  They are a loud and rambunctious bunch that I just adore.  And there we were, when all of the sudden my brother in law came out of the room, having just changed from shorts and chanclas to blue jeans, a collared shirt, sneakers, and a cap.

The following conversation ensued and I just couldn’t help but giggling inside (like a school girl):

My eldest niece:  Why is daddy all dressed up?

My youngest nephew:  I don’t know… mommy was putting makeup on earlier?

It was past midnight when all of this conversation took place.

My eldest niece:  What the heck?  Mom was putting on makeup?  “Ma!  Why were you putting on makeup?  Where are we going, to a gala or something?”

My eldest nephew:  I don’t know they’re weird.

Then all four of them, plus Edgar, busted out in laughter.

Two things struck me right then.  One, the generational differences between our generation and theirs are so apparent that they even show up in the minutest of situations, like how we get ready to go out of town.  My nieces and nephews would have been perfectly comfortable traveling in their pajamas!  We, the adults, don’t do that of course!   Not normally anyway.  There’s a sense of personal pride in putting your best foot forward by trying to look presentable in every situation.  ¿Apoco no? 

And two, that we are all old enough to not fully understand what it really means to “just be chilling.”

Pero you know what?  I think I’m okay with that.

Sorry, Kiddo. We Are Not That Cool!

we're not that cool parents juanofwords

In every parent’s life, there comes that moment when despite all of our best efforts we have to come to terms with facing the reality… well, of our reality.  It’s not a pleasant experience and very rarely do we get to choose when it happens.  Most of the time it’s at the most unexpected of times and in the most bizarre and/or random of situations.  ¡Ya sé!  Listen to me, the “all experienced” parent trying to tell you about how to raise your own kids.  I’m not.  I’m just as nervous and worried as the next parent.  How the hell am I supposed to know what to do?!  This is my first time after all.

Pero bueno, we have to give each other valentía.  

For me, this aha moment just kind of happened over the weekend.  Bueno, I’m probably making more of it than what it was.  But that’s just my way!  So there we were, driving to visit my parents over the weekend as is pretty customary for us.  I forget what we were talking about, but it might have had something to do with work or blogging, or vlogging – poor Edgar he has to listen to a lot of these conversations – when all of the sudden he asked “can I get a cell phone?”  Now, he’s asked this question before although it’s always been half kidding.  You know, the way a seven year old might ask if they can keep the phone that you just stopped using because you bought another one, not really understanding that without a service plan there  aren’t really a lot of frills to owning a phone.  This time though, he was serious.

I know because only recently have we begun to let him use our smartphones and other mobile devices on a regular basis.  I know because he started talking about “a phone with internet” and “so I can get on Netflix and YouTube” and all that other good stuff.  I know because his cousins have, and have had, the internet on their iPods, iPhones and other devices and have been teaching him about it even if they haven’t really realized it themselves.  Of course, pues desde luego como estarán pensando, this is pretty normal for his age and the times that we are living in right now.  What it really made me kind of start hyperventilating about was all the implications that a phone means.

It means that he’s going to “have to have” someone to talk to and text on that phone.  That he’s going to have to have “a life” of his own pretty soon.  That, yes, he’s moving on to another grade and another year closer to high school and graduation.  That pretty soon he’s not going to look up to us or listen to everything we say to him just because we’re his parents.  It means that pretty soon we’re going to stop being cool and he’s going to probably realize that we don’t always know everything.  That sometimes we’re just kind of winging it.  But worst of all, what that means is that the little boy who’s sleeping in the next room right now is going to eventually stop being our little boy.

He’s going to grow up!

That terrifies me.  To be completely honest.

Granted I know there are so many other parents out there facing much tougher challenges today with their own kids.  I don’t pretend to compare myself to anyone.  But en toda sinceridad how do we know?  How do we know that we are doing a good job?  How do we know when our kids are really ready for a cell phone or not?

We gave him the old “you have to prove to us that you’re responsible enough for a phone” routine… pero en verdad, I’m not really ready for him to have one.  Which kind of made realize something about myself too.  I’m not as hip of a parent as I used to think I was.  I’m actually pretty darn old school in fact.

Pobrecito, he ended up with parents from the 1900s instead of the new millennium!

Raising A Bilingual Kid: And Learning Right Alongside Him Every Step Of The Way!

raising a bilingual kid learning alongside them every step of the way capirotada enchiladas language juanofwords

This past weekend we went to Dallas for a few days.  We were there for the Blissdom 2013 national conference, and while it was everything we had expected and a lot more (there were mixed drinks at some of the tabletop booths so ya se imaginan…), what really made the trip extra special was something Edgar said at Anjelica’s aunts’ home.  We were staying with them while we were in Dallas.  One, to not pay for a hotel.  And two, because you already know in Mexican families if you don’t stay with family that’s just as bad as turning your back on us.

So there we were.  It was late on Saturday evening.  We had already come back from the conference and we were exhausted.  One of Anjelica’s aunts was making capirotada – if you’re not familiar it’s very similar to bread pudding – and we were all sitting around the table talking.  Then Edgar started asking questions.

Edgar:  What is that?

Anjelica’s Aunt:  Capirotada.

Edgar:  No, what is that?  What is that ma?

Everyone:  Capirotada. Capirotada mijo.  It’s capirotada.

Edgar:  But how do you say it in English?

Anjelica’s Aunt:  Capirotada.

Edgar:  Yeah, but in English… what is the word for that in English?

Anjelica’s Aunt:  How do you say enchiladas in English?

Edgar:  En-chee-la-ttas.

Anjelica’s Aunt:  Pos hay está, in English you say ca-pee-ro-ta-dah.

I haven’t been able to stop laughing at that exchange.  It reminded me so much about some of the many language barriers of my own that I’ve had over the years.  For the longest I called one of my parent’s friends everything else but her real name of Calletana.  It was such a tender moment that I had to recreate it in the videos below:

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Raising a Bilingual Kid: Schoolyard Crushes!

raising a bilingual kid school yard crushes juanofwords
The Wonder Years.

So the other day Edgar and I were talking. Of all things our conversation ended up turning out to be about girls. He’s right about that same age that I was when all the little boys in my classroom, including myself, first began to discover that not all the girls in our school were prone to severe cases of the cooties. Okay, so to be completely honest there was just one little girl at McCook Elementary that seemed to have miraculously avoided contracting that hideous affliction that made us all but allergic to the rest of the little girls in our school.

Her name was Maria Cantu, and every single one of us age 10 or above at McCook Elementary who wasn’t already in love with one of our teachers was completely and madly “in love” with her. She commanded a room. The playground. The lunchroom. We worshipped her and I think she knew it. Even to this day I sometimes wonder whatever happened to Maria Cantu. Not that I would even expect her to remember me or anyone else from back then, or that I would even recognize her if she were sitting right next to me in the room right now. There’s no way. At this point she’s more a figment of my imagination than anything else.

But still, there was something special about that first crush that has somehow managed to stay with me for almost three decades of my life now.

I wondered if this would be Edgar’s Maria Cantu too?

Does his Maria – coincidentally that is her name too, Maria (I would say “what are the odds?” but we’re in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood and let’s face it Maria might as well be Kim, Cindy or Sandy here) – awaken in him the same innocent feelings of friendship and wanting to play with his crush at the playground or after school that my Maria did in me? When we go shopping for Valentine’s Day cards this year will he save one of the bigger, showier ones for her? Better yet, will he ask his crafty mother to make something extra special just for her? He is his mother’s son after all, and unlike me, Edgar and Angie are all about the little detalles.

Which brings me to another point in this whole schoolyard crush post. He first confessed to Anjelica that he had a crush on this little girl named Maria. I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t a little hurt by him telling her first instead of me, but like any good Mexican parent I then made it my personal mission to get him to confess that same secreto to me. After which of course I acted like it was the first time I had ever heard it in my life.

¿Pos qué más me quedaba? It’s not like I could rat myself out.

Anyway, it also made me think. What if we didn’t live here. Would his crush still be a Maria and would that make any difference whatsoever?

I’d say it’s safe to say I’m in plain loquito mode now. But I do think the crush is pretty cool too.

Time to take this boy Valentine shopping!

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