Something pretty amazing has been happening the last couple of days with Vanessa in her Kindergarten class.
When I informed her teacher that Vanessa is bilingual, she told me there were two kids in her classroom who also spoke Spanish, but are not bilingual yet and so they are attending ESL classes. I wanted to ask who they were and if I could meet their parents, but I figured I'd just let that happen kind of organically figuring there'd be plenty of opportunities for this.
But then, I wasn't able to attend the open house where all parents were invited to the classroom so Vanessa's teacher could give a presentation and answer questions. And so, I missed that opportunity to possibly introduce myself and Vanessa to these kids and their parents.
Instead, I told my daughter that there are two children who speak Spanish in her class who are learning English and that she's lucky to speak both languages because maybe she could help them if it ever looked like they didn't understand what was being said or if they maybe wanted to talk to other children in Spanish. Unsure of how much of this she understood, I kind of just left it at that.
Later on, when I asked Vanessa if she had met the Spanish-speaking kids, she told me she hadn't and I know these past three weeks have been so overwhelming for her that I didn't want to push the issue too much. But when we got to school Wednesday morning, she happened to get in line just behind one of these children – the one that we both have noticed cries every single morning when his dad leaves. ¡Pobrecito! Kindergarten can be a tough adjustment, and I'm sure not speaking a lot of English doesn't make it any easier.
I guess the dad heard my kids and I speak because he immediately turned around and asked if we spoke Spanish. I said yes, introduced myself and ask about his son. We barely had time before they opened the school doors and the kids marched in, and so I quickly reminded Vanessa what I'd told her about being bilingual and gave her a kiss good-bye.
That afternoon, her teacher told our nanny that Vanessa had made a new friend. When I asked her about it later on that evening, she told me that his new friend spoke Spanish, just like her.
On Thursday, when my husband dropped our daughter off at school, he said that as soon as the he saw her, the little boy came running to her and said, "¡Hola Vanessa!" with a smile in his face and they started chatting. And then, for the first time since school started three weeks ago, the little boy didn't cry when his dad left...
Roxana A. Soto
Raising Bilingual + Bicultural Kids
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