While Bibsey, growing more gorgeous by the day at the grand old age of 3 & 3/4, was in the bath last night I was chatting to her in Spanish – I try do this on the walk to school, at meal times, in the car and at bathtime – and I was scrabbling for the word for hair (not a hard one I know, but I get it confused with word for skin and I have to think every time) and she said:
“Pelo. You know I can help you with being Spanish Mummy”
The switch has well and truly been switched. I may have better grammar and vocabulary than her (not for long), but she already has an innate understanding of the language and she knows that she is a ‘speaker’ and I am a ‘pretender’.
Really I couldn’t hope for anything more. As an expat parent you cannot help but wonder if you are doing the right thing by your children living far from family and expecting them to sink or swim in situations that you wouldn’t dream of throwing yourself into: Guardaría nursery and colégio primary school. It’s jungle out there.
Imagine starting a job in an office where everyone spoke a language of which really, apart from the probably erroneous mumblings of your parents, you had no knowledge! Sounds pretty challenging right?
If you are an expat bringing up children in Spain, or thinking about making the move, you may be interested in a wonderful e-book called A Little Girl in Spain, written by Helene Pattermann and illustrated by Katie Waple, a very talented friend of mine. Like me she lives with small children up a mountain in Spain. In fact she lives on the same mountain, but over an hour away on the other side in a small village near the Sierra Nevada ski resort.
It is a bilingual book aimed at children aged 2-8 or thereabouts. This beautifully illustrated story offers something more than the typical ball = pelota cat = gato offered by some of the bilingual books on the market.
A Little Girl in Spain deals with a day in the life of a little English speaking girl growing up in a typical Spanish small town pueblo. The characters in the book speak either English or Spanish naturally, and the Little Girl asks such questions as why she says “hello” and her friends say “hola” and why the shops shut during the afternoon for siesta. The story follows her as she gets to grips with day-to-day village life and the Spanish language.
The Little Girl in Spain is a sweet character with whom expat children can easily identify. I am so proud and relieved that my daughter has met the challenges of her first term at school in Spain with gusto (despite a few bumps in the road), but it is clear that she knows that she is different and A Little Girl in Spain is someone that she recognises.
You can purchase A Little Girl in Spain as a pdf eBook on your computer, Android tablet or phone, Kindle, iPad or iPhone.
You can also find more of Katie’s work, including portraits and the most gorgeous custom made bookmarks and greeting cards, here at Watashino Arts.