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Spiderman doesn’t speak Spanish

Updated: Oct 29, 2022

Today, on our way to run an errand, my three year old was in the back seat pretending to be a superhero. According to her, we were going on a ‘special mission’. I was explaining to her, in Spanish, where we were going. That’s when she said it: “Spiderman doesn’t speak Spanish mama.” Boom. Followed by: “He doesn’t speak Spanish or French”. Ouch.

Ok I thought, message received. You don’t want me talking to you in another language right now. I could have left it at that and just carried on with the conversation in English. It would have been so much easier. But easier isn’t always better I try to remind myself… so I didn’t. I quickly scrambled trying to figure out what to respond. “I see”, I said. “And what would happen if a person needed help and only spoke Spanish? Or if they asked for help but it was in French. What would Spiderman have done?” She looked puzzled. “Well, he would just respond in English” she said. I could see her thinking about what I had just said. I left it at that, as I didn’t want to push the point. We continued our trip, and I continued to talk to her in Spanish.

As our family continues it’s bilingual (soon to be multilingual) journey, and as our eldest becomes wiser, I have noticed one recurring theme: trying to survive those harsh comments about not wanting to speak your language. It’s tough, and it can be very discouraging, leading you to think that maybe you should just stop sharing your language altogether.

But don’t give up. Keep at it. I find it helpful to remind myself that it’s not personal. It’s not that she doesn’t like me, it's that she is not interested in speaking my language at that moment. And I try to remember that the successes that she has in Spanish, no matter how small, should be celebrated to keep us both motivated. I also try to remind myself of the benefits that she will have by being fully bilingual. Sometimes that helps.

In retrospect, I probably should have said: “Spiderman is multilingual and he knows that with great power comes great responsibility.”... but you know, she is only three. =)


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