5.01.2014

overcoming target language obstacles

This week we are experiencing Pippa's first ear infection. It's tough to see your baby in pain, knowing there is not a lot you can do about it. Naturally, speaking Spanish to Pippa today was the furthest thing from my mind. That is, until we were in the waiting room at the doctor's office.

As we passed the time waiting for the doctor to see us, I fed her Cheerios and watched Aladdin, which I am sure was on for the children, but it had been a long time since I had seen it. (patience, Iago). Pippa was resting but also trying to grab handfuls of Cheerios out of the container when I wasn't looking. After a few minutes, the most beautiful woman and her 14-month-old sat across from us and smiled. She inquired, with a slight accent, about Pippa's age, and complimented her, as is custom when you see any baby, ever. I returned the social norm, and we went on our way in polite silence. When the woman's toddler tried to grab her iPhone, I overheard her speak to her child in another language I didn't recognize.

That's when the lightbulb went off for me. When your child is in distress, it is natural to want to speak to her in your heart language - your native tongue. But I had clearly used this situation as an excuse to take the day off. I actually probably wouldn't have worried about it if this were a rare situation. But the problem is that I find myself backing off from using Spanish whenever there is an obstacle of any kind big or small. I did try to slip some Spanish in today, during the higher points of the day, and told myself tomorrow would be another day, another day to do a better job.

Here are some of the excuses I end up succumbing to more often than not:

1. I am in public - I don't want people to think I'm being pretentious. I don't want people to think I'm going "overboard" because it's my first child. The problem - I'm worried about what others think.

2. I am with family or friends - I am afraid of coming off as rude if I am speaking a language those around me can't understand.

3. I am in a bad/sad/weird mood - How I feel shouldn't affect doing what I know is good for my child, and yet it so often does. (See also: working out, eating healthy, being kind, cleaning the house).

4. I am lazy - I can't think of the word right now, so I'll just revert entirely back to English.

5. I am waiting until...  - I have had more time to read in Spanish...
                                        - I have memorized that prayer in Spanish
                                        - the timing is right, all her teeth have come in, the stars have aligned, the  moon is full.

Anything can be an excuse if you let it. The key for me is to prepare ahead of time for these situations or feelings that arise, so I know how to respond to them in order to stay on track. Just like healthy eating - if you prepare your meals ahead of time and only buy healthy foods, you're more likely to succeed. It takes discipline. It's just a matter of willingness to put in the time and work.

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