My son Santiago suffers from second child syndrome. Have you ever heard of that? It refers to how most second children don’t get the same kind of attention first children get. It’s not like I’m neglecting Santiago or anything like that, I just haven’t done the same sort of things I did with Vanessa at his age.
For starters, I’ve been working full-time since right before he turned one, which means I haven’t had nearly as much free time with him as I had with her. We also stopped going to our bilingual children meetup once Vanessa started kindergarten, so Santiago never really got the chance to make any friends in the group. I’ve also noticed I don’t read to him as much as I read to her, although luckily, now that Vanessa knows how to read, she does a lot of the reading and Santiago loves it.
Then, the other day he was giving me a hard time while I was trying to get him dressed for preschool when I decided to start singing “Arroz con leche” just out of the blue. Santiago LOVES music like no other child I’ve met and I was amazed that my singing worked wonders since he immediately came to me and let me get him dressed. But it broke my heart to realize that even though he wanted, he couldn’t follow along because he didn’t know the lyrics.
How is is possible that my 3-year-old son can’t sing “Arroz con leche“? I felt terrible so I continued singing to see what other traditional children’s songs in Spanish he didn’t know. “Los pollitos dicen“? Barely. “Aserrín, aserrán“? Not a clue. “Tengo una muñeca“? Never heard of it. Seems like “Pimpón” was the only one he knew almost in its entirety.
At his age, Vanessa knew how to sing all of the songs above and many more. I know it’s not the end of the world because I can still teach them to him, but it just got me thinking how crazy it is that I didn’t even realize he hasn’t really heard them all that much.
Music is such a great way of enriching a bilingual child’s vocabulary — and in Santiago’s case even more so since he’s so in love with music. So now we’re making sure we listen to all the CD’s we have with traditional children’s music in Spanish. Santiago has a CD player in his room, so I’ve just started playing these songs whenever we’re in his room and he’s totally into them.
Teaching my son these traditional songs reminds me of my own childhood, and I can only hope that one day, when he becomes a dad, he’ll sing them to his child and remember his own childhood. By the way, if you don’t remember all the lyrics, there’s an amazing site called Mama Lisa’s Wolrd which includes all of them (with English translations) divided by country. Besides songs, you can also find nursery rhymes from all over the world. I promise that once you visit, you’ll be hooked and you’ll remember even more traditional children’s songs in Spanish.
And here’s a list of some of our other favorite CD’s with children’s music in Spanish:
- Music With Sara
- Salsa for Kittens & Puppies
- Caramba Kids
- Moona Luna
- Sones de México Ensemble
- Cha Cha Cha: Canciones Infantiles
- Chakuchukuchá-Bilingual Latin Beats
- The SpanglishBaby YouTube Musica Playlist