Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pride, self- and parental-

The pumpkinhead and I went to Chick-fil-a last week, and she met a new friend in the play area. After they played for a while, both girls came out and asked for ice cream. As it turned out, Simone's new friend's grandmother was sitting in the booth behind me. So both girls stood on their knees backward in their respective booths, facing each other while chatting and eating ice cream.

Two six-year-olds can learn more about each other in 10 minutes than a lot of adults can over the course of a first date! They discussed pets, ages, siblings, first grade, Hello Kitty, and whatever else is important to little girls.

Then, apropos of  nothing, Simone made an announcement:  "I can speak English, Spanish, Chinese and French."

Everyone at the two booths (and a couple of other nearby tables) looked at her in shock. Me, because it is kind of an obnoxious thing to say in this context. The new friend's grandmother, I'm guessing maybe for the same reason as me, but she looked a little doubtful that this was a true statement. The new friend, because apparently she did not know that other languages even existed.

The new friend looked a little confused, and asked her grandmother, "What do we speak?" The grandmother told her that they speak only English, and the girl seemed a little disappointed at that news.

Sensing her new friend's disappointment, Simone offered, "My mommy and I can teach you Spanish, because we both know how to speak Spanish." Then she started enunciating, "Ho-la. Ho-la." Her new friend repeated it and asked what it means. Simone told her that it means "hello" in Spanish, and the little girl seemed very happy and proud of herself for learning something so exotic.

Then they both skipped off to the play area again and climbed into the highest tunnel to hide and tell secrets.

I never told the grandmother that Simone knows only a few words - mostly counting to ten, colors, and a few other vocabulary words - of Mandarin and French because I didn't want to diminish Simone's pride in announcing her brilliance to all of Chick-fil-a. And technically, she can speak a little of each language, and is learning more all the time.

But mostly, I didn't say anything because I was just so darn proud of her! Not only is she learning new languages, she's proud of it and wants others to learn along with her.  
A mi me amo a esa nina! 
Wǒ xǐhuan nàgè nǚhái!
J'aime cette fille! 
I love that girl!


Fiona said...

What a great story, and how wonderful that your daughter knows how special her multiple languages are.
My daughter can only speak a few words of Spanish, but she still includes it as one of 'her' spoken languages!
At the age of 6 the fact that they know it is a language and can speak a few words it still pretty amazing.

Anonymous said...

Motivation can be hard in bilingualism. How cool that your daughter has it in spades! Cute story too!

Annabelle said...

Great story. So important to keep her pride, interest and motivation going... good on you.

Busy as a Bee in Paris said...

Great story! Isn't it wonderful when they catch the vision even when they're so young. My three children are trilingual and I'm so dang proud of them, but their willingness to play along and their own pride at being trilingual are what make me just beam!!!! Good luck to you! Maria