Guest blogger Christina Montoya Fiedler: No hablo español. It's true. I do not speak Spanish, although everyone assumes I do -- and berates me because I don't. I'm in, what I'd like to call, my silent stage. I can understand most and speak some, but not nearly enough to hold a conversation. I've yet to put all the words and phrases I know into complete sentences above a fourth grade level.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in five Californians speak Spanish fluently. I am not one of them. Although I am a Mexican American, and am very proud of my culture, I never completely learned, despite many college courses.
While it may be a little late for me, it is not for my six-month-old son. Right now his brain is like a little sponge, soaking up everything and anything. So, together we are brushing up on our Spanish.
At six months, your baby can hear and pick up on many more nuances of speech than you can. For instance, while most adults cannot pick up on the difference between the two "dd" sounds in the Hindi language, your baby can. But a few months from now this ability will fade as your baby pays closer attention to the sounds that are essential to his own native language.
So, on it goes -- with a LOT of help from my mother (who is an English as Second Language teacher in Orange County, where the majority of her students are Spanish speakers). In fact, I can hear her in the other room speaking Spanish with my son Joe. "¿Que quieres comer? Platanos?"
As for me, Joe and I are starting off simple. Water - Agua. Apple - Manzana. Doggie - Perrito.
Growing up in a mostly Hispanic neighborhood in Los Angeles, I got a lot of grief from my fellow Mexican American friends who couldn't wrap their heads around the fact that I did not speak Spanish. "How could you be a real Mexican and not speak Spanish!" they said. We were just in grade school, but the stereotypes were still there.
All in all, I want my son to understand what took me quite a while to realize when I was small -- just be yourself and that is how you can be the best testament to your heritage and family. You could be a Mexican who doesn't speak Spanish -- like me, or one that does. And it doesn't make a difference. Culture is so much more, so much richer, than just a language. It's the food, the people, the family. It's how you live your life.
|Christina Montoya Fiedler resides in Los Angeles, CA, with husband Andy and her son Joseph. She juggles baby and work from home as a freelance publicist and attributes her strong love for life and sense of humor to her loving familia.|
Join Christina in the momlogic community's Latina Mamas group!