I spent the night babysitting for my favorite 12 year old girl the other evening. We spent most of the night studying Spanish and it really brought me back to being in seventh grade and feeling embarrassed about pronouncing Spanish words. I like to think I was not alone when I felt slightly strange making my name, which is clearly not of Spanish background, sound Spanish or better yet saying it with an American accent after doing a perfect accent in Spanish of "me llamo...". Anyone else feel me on this one? Spanish was really an easy subject for me and one of my favorites in junior high. I give a lot of credit to my highly enthusiastic teacher Mr. Caldwell but being that my mother speaks Italian and spoke it to her sisters and her mother, made for an easy transition. My siblings and I always question why we weren't taught Italian growing up? My mother would say phrases to us as kids which we would understand and always mocked her when she was on the phone with her sisters. I really wish we pushed my mom to teach us. When my grandmother passed away my mom said something among the lines of, ".. now I am going to lose my Italian" which really made me sad. My mother grew up speaking Italian and French and it's a big part of our childhood. At family gatherings it was always Italian and French combinations at the dinner table while the kids (we all weren't taught Italian and there was 14 of us) would sit in the other room eavesdropping on our mothers talking about us and then yelling back in English, "I know what you are saying!". It was also a way that my mom could talk to me in front of people without them knowing what she was saying and I cannot count how many times my sister and I always say, "I wish we had a language no one else undestood!". I'm aware people understand Italian, but the chances of someone knowing it where we grew up was pretty slim and if anyone could translate it, it would be the kids who spoke Spanish. As I get older, it's harder to feel OK about my mom not teaching us Italian or French . I know that James feels the same way about the language barrier he has with his mom and her family who all speak Thai. I remember one Thanksgiving we spent with all his mother's friends and family over where the whole dinner we ate in silence because no one spoke English the whole night. I know it's never too late to learn but it's too late in the sense that I'm no longer around my mother everyday to practice with her. Here's a hot tip for bi-lingual parents: teach your child the language! They will appreciate it later... and it's an investment in their future.

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