So, why the title Españolita…¡sobre la marcha!? Well, it all starts with a story:
Eager to impress my husband’s Spanish family with our excitement at their upcoming September visit by preparing a productive week of vacation (key here is “productive”), I decide to dust off my written Spanish to compose a detailed itinerary of activities to do during their weeklong visit. Blow-by-blow. Day-by-day. I mean, what better way to show you care about someone than by organizing their entire vacation? (In case you’re wondering, my love language consists of preparing, organizing, and providing.)
So, one week before the arrival of Familia España, while D. takes E. out for a walk around the park, I grab a Diet Coke and plop myself in front of the computer. One hour and ten paragraphs later, I hit send and pat myself on the back. What a thoughtful daughter-in-law I am! They’ll be so pleased at how much time I obviously spent pulling together resources and ideas for them.
The next morning I wake up to find the following e-mail from my suegro (father-in-law): Muchas gracias por tus atractivas sugerencias que seguro iremos planificando sobre la marcha. Translation: “Thank you very much for your attractive suggestions. I’m sure we’ll just play it by ear. On the fly. Can’t wait to see you all Sunday!”
That’s it? That’s all I get? A one-liner. We’ll “play it by ear”? No gushing emotive response to the tune of “Audrey, thank you so much for taking the time to send us this amazingly-detailed itinerary with web links and ticket prices. Now that we have this list of activities we feel so much more excited about the trip. Let’s be sure we try to jam in as much of this as possible into our trip.”?
Deflated, I turn to D., who gently reminds me that ellos son españoles. Tanto planear les estresa (“They’re Spaniards. All that planning just stresses them out.”)
After two years living in Madrid and almost eleven years of marriage to a Spaniard, you would think I would at least brush off my suegro’s reply or at most limit myself to a welcome e-mail of one paragraph.
But, then it hits me. Although to D. I might be españolita (a diminutive term of endearment meaning “little Spanish lady”), I am still, in my bones and soul, an American. While my Spanish family would rather approach vacation sobre la marcha (“on the fly”), I would rather plan each day hour-by-hour in order to ensure the most productive (key here is “productive”) vacation conceivable.
Not only was I going to have to take a step back and take this weeklong vacation “sobre la marcha,” but I realized that this whole bilingual parenting endeavor is also one big experiment that D. and I must approach as we go, on the fly. Sobre la marcha. While we have committed ourselves to raising E. bilingually, and although we are taking every measure within our power (bilingual books, Spanish story time, Spanish play dates, etc.) to ensure that she grows up bilingual, neither D. nor I control the outcome, por mucho que planeemos.
And, así nació the name for this blog: Españolita (that’s me!)…¡sobre la marcha! Adventures in bilingual parenting….on the fly! This is a blog about our bilingual parenting adventures. I invite you to join my family in language learning, language teaching, language growing, and language loving, all…¡sobre la marcha!
P.S. Need a translation of the photo caption? “What do you do when it rains on your vacation? A paella, of course! You’ve gotta take vacation…on the fly!