“Que linda se ve. Lleva un vestido bien hermoso,” said the woman next to me, referring to E. who bounced on my lap.
As D., E., and I sat in the lobby of the Manhattan hotel, waiting for “Team España” (as D. and I affectionately referred to our familia de España who had come to meet E. for the first time this past September), I struck up a conversation with la señora de Venezuela seated next to me. “Estamos esperando a sus abuelos y tíos, que han venido a conocerla por primera vez,” I replied.
It was una visita de relámpago (“a lightening visit”), just one week. But, it was packed with many sweet moments.
Like watching E. immediately recognize her tía (aunt) because of our near daily Facetime chats over the past eight months. (Technology is amazing!)
Or, as D. had correctly predicted, su abuela no dejó de achucharle y darle besos (“her grandmother never stopped hugging and kissing her”). In fact, le dejó los mofletes planos (“she left her cheeks completely flat”).
Or, while strolling through the streets of downtown New York, I’d hang back and watch as abuelo pushed the stroller down the sidewalk, chuleando de su nieta (“showing off his granddaughter”).
The week was also marked by hilarious outtakes. Forgetting that American doors have screens, my suegro (father-in-law), E. in arms, marched straight through the kitchen door to the deck at my parents’ house, followed by the mosquitero (screen door) and our perro in tow. ¡Qué risa!
Or, during our farewell dinner with the American and Spanish families together, as my mom chastised me for not finishing my cole slaw, I turned to my suegra (mother-in-law) and rolled my eyes, “Sometimes my mom still talks to me like I’m 14.” Without missing a beat, she replied, “Lo normal! Es tu madre!” (Well, of course! She’s your mom!)
Humor and awkward moments aside, it was a beautiful week with nuestra familia, one for which I’m grateful. The first thing E.’s abuelos asked us as they swooped her into their arms in that New York hotel lobby was “¿Habla ella español?”
But, they weren’t asking, “does she speak Spanish?”. They already knew the answer to that question (we’d Facetimed weekly in Spanish for the past eight months).
No. They were asking, are we teaching her about them, about Spain.
E.’s learning Spanish isn’t just for her cognitive benefit, or because it’s some cool parenting experiment.
Language is love. And, in our case, our teaching E. to speak Spanish means we’re teaching her that Team España loves her, too. Now, she’ll have the words to reciprocate that love.