"I don't want you to speak in Spanish mummy, stop it." These were the words of eldest son, aged 4 and a half this morning. Along with "Take that towel off your hair, mummy! I don't like it!" Both phrases seemed intertwined in his opinion, and both seemed equally reasonable. The logic of a 4 year old can be hard to follow. But it, in my opinion, should not be fought. You can't teach your child that his opinion has no place in the world, Yet I can't be constantly subject to his tyranny! I have to teach him that other people have their own way of living their life, speaking words, thinking thoughts, and drying their hair... So what did I do? I carried on talking in Spanish and wearing my hair in a towel of course! I responded to his demands each time with the words "Por qué? (why)". Cue toddler meltdown.
After he calmed down/got so hungry he decided he needed his porridge he came downstairs in a quieter mood. We cuddled and I said "Darling I will not ask you to speak Spanish, that's your choice. And you're doing really well with it, trying really hard. I am proud of you. But you can't ask me not to speak Spanish. I grew up talking three languages, Catalan, English and Spanish. I don't use my catalan so as not to confuse you with too many languages all at once. But asking me not to use my Spanish as well is like if I said to you you couldn't ever use any dinosaur words ever again. How would you feel?" It hit home. He smiled, we were friends again. And within a minute or two he was getting his cuchara (spoon) out and saying "es para mi" (this is mine). Children speak in terms of forever. They say stop it and I don't like it. But do they mean it or do they mean right now? Right now I can't handle this, and I need your guidance. If I believed every complaint my child made we'd never leave the house...
But still the mummy guilt and worries come back. Am I pushing too much? Teaching anything is a fine line balancing your desire to teach with their desire to learn. I am still feeling my way. But that's all mummies, isn't it?
Spanish Gemma is a mum living in Kings Heath, Birmingham, UK.
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