Bilingual is Better

Our Summer of Spanish

Even though we’re only half-way through the summer, my children are going back to school on Monday. So, for all intents and purposes, our summer is almost over. And what a summer it has been! Vanessa and Santiago have been immersed in Spanish all.summer.long and it has been an experience like no other.

First, as many of you know, we spent a whole month in Puerto Rico with my husband’s side of the family where my children were not only fully immersed in Spanish, but also in Puerto Rican culture. Vanessa got to attend a summer camp for two weeks with one of her cousins and the rest of the time was spent going to the beach, the pool and on all kinds of paseos to get to know their father’s homeland a bit better.

During our stay, I asked Vanessa to keep a journal. I didn’t pester her too much about it, but I wanted her to have a keepsake of her trip to Puerto Rico — and for her to practice her writing skills too! I never told her what language to use, and I must say I was utterly surprised (and thrilled) when she read me her first entry and it was in Spanish. Proud mom that I am, I have to share that when I showed her grandfather some of her journal entries, he was amazed that she’s never received any kind of formal instruction in Spanish.

Apart from living in Spanish all that time, the trip gave my children an opportunity to cement their bond with their cousins (there’s 10 of them!), which, in all honesty, was one of the main goals. I love that my kids got to spend so much time with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. I loved the laughter, the games and even the fights among cousins because that’s how I grew up. What I didn’t love was seeing Vanessa cry as she begged for us not to leave.

It’s too early for me to say whether we’ll be going back next summer, but my kids are definitely looking forward to another round and I know their cousins are too. In the meantime, we’re making sure they stay in touch with through regular phone calls and FaceTime.

Less than a week after we got back to Denver, my aunt and her husband came to visit from Peru — making us extremely happy not only with their presence, but also with all the encarguitos they brought with them. A few days later, my other aunt and her granddaughter — my 14-year-old niece and my kids’ cousin — came to visit from Mexico. So for almost three more weeks, Vanessa and Santiago were again immersed in Spanish and family all day long.

My niece was amazing with her two cousins, from telling them all kinds of cool bedtime stories to simply playing with them like she was their age. Plus, she brought a bag full of her childhood books, which we have already started reading and loving. Mis tías no se quedaron atrás. They read books, sang songs and played games with my kids creating memories that I’m sure will last a lifetime.

But the best part of their visit is that Vanessa got to celebrate her 7th birthday with a lot more family than ever before. The look on my daughter’s face as we surprised her with a piece of cake at a restaurant the day of her birthday and we sang at least three Spanish versions of the “Happy Birthday” song was absolutely priceless. I love that my kids got to create some strong bonds with my side of the family too!

Everyone’s gone back home now and our life is slowly returning back to normal as we get ready for the new school year, but I’m sure this will be one of those summers that my kids won’t easily forget.

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