It was a lovely sight. A dozen children, most of them preschoolers, all speaking Spanish — and some English – in the backyard of my house. I hadn’t hosted a meetup for my bilingual playgroup in a long, long time. And I’m so happy I finally did.
We’re about to celebrate our three year anniversary as a group and I can honestly say that the friendships both my children and I have made because of it are priceless. I was lucky to join the group as it was being formed and got to attend the first meetup ever back in June 2008. At the time, I only had Vanessa who was almost 2 years old. The organizer’s daughter and mine hit it right off and became instant friends.
I use to assist and organize tons of meetups at the beginning because I was a SAHM, just starting to research this whole blogging thing in preparation of what eventually became SpanglishBaby. I had a ton of time in my hands and I’m so grateful I happened to find a group like this online. Not only have I met all kinds of wonderful people, but I’ve ensured that my bilingual and bicultural children have friends who are growing up just like them.
We’ve written before about the power and importance of playgroups, but just to bring the point home even further, I wanted to share with you what one of the moms in our group – for whom Spanish is not a native language, but is raising two bilingual and bicultural daughters together with her Mexican husband – wrote about the recent meetup at my house:
I was ecstatic when I read my friend’s update on Facebook because, in the end, that is what the whole point of our playgroup is all about. If only we could do it more often. Vanessa hasn’t refused to speak Spanish yet, and I’m praying to all the gods that she never does. But I know that the possibility lurks right around the corner as she starts her all-English journey the first of August when she begins Kindergarten. I know I’ll have to rely much heavier on my playgroup to help make sure she still has exposure to Spanish in a playful setting and not just at home with us.
Finally, I also wanted to share a little anecdote about how connected our bilingual and bicultural children feel when they meet others like them. Vanessa attended summer camp at the same preschool she’s been going to for the past three years. This time around she lucked out and had a bilingual and bicultural girl – that we’ve known outside the school, but haven’t really frequented that much – in her class. When I went to pick her up after her first day at the camp, her teacher told me Vanessa and her friend had spent all day speaking Spanish, in their own little world. I was ecstatic. And then, in the car on the way home, Vanessa revealed the news like it was the best thing that had happened to her in a long time. I was even more ecstatic.
Vanessa’s friend and her mom – who’s my friend – were over at our house for the meetup we recently hosted. When I told the mom about Vanessa’s excitement regarding her daughter, she told me her daughter felt exactly the same. There’s just something about realizing you’re not alone in this bilingual and bicultural journey!
If you belong to a bilingual or Spanish playgroup like mine, we beg you to leave your info in our Forums so others can find you. If you’d like to start one in your area, we invite you to also visit the Forum and share your information.