My bookclub just finished Battle hymn of a Tiger Mother and it caused me to re-evaluate my inner Tigress. I choose my hymn carefully and it goes something like this, “Kids, you get to decide most things most of the time. I get to decide some of the things some of the time.” Outcome: No Real Battle.
Sometimes I draw a line in the San Diego sand and say “I get to decide this one.”
The current this one is Spanish. Why? Because my job is to prepare my children to live in this world and this world is much greater than monolingual-ism. Because the research about flexibility in thinking shows increases with dual language ability and that innate ability starts to disappear in early childhood. Check out this fascinating video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcb8nT0QC6o
For my child, while still in the womb, I choose a Spanish Immersion Magent school and what do you know… my firstborn got in. Bummer for us was that as a mere neonate I did not know she would shrivel up and want to crawl back into the womb if I sent her to this school. After much gashing of teeth we turned it down. Instead I launched a full blown Operation Spanish Immersion After School Surprise Attack at her current school. I researched every possible language option (and my partner would call this an understatement). Then, I found Lena the fabulous director of Lingua Natal who now offers a 10:1 ration three times per week (research shows frequency matters more than duration) full Spanish Immersion After School Program.
Are you ready for the real Bilingual Tiger Mama kicker? I made her go over Winter Break too. That’s right. While other kids were lounging in new holiday pj’s my child was up and at ‘em. Y en el em Ah Huh. Because that clock is ticking. Did you watch the video? I forced my shy (understatment) child to attend a winter break camp (with strangers) at the Lingua Natal’s main campus. I only found out later that every other kid at camp was already bilingual. My kid? She cried (real tears) and refused to go. I repeated my carefully chosen battle hymn:
“You get to choose most things most of the time. Learning Spanish is our choice.”
Now, she’ll tell you with a I just lost a lower tooth swagger, “I’m the best in my class at Spanish.” She can even translate Spanish Dora cartoons to her dad. And I don’t mean that un poco of Spanish on regular Dora. Nope I mean DORA IN SPANISH. That’s right. We don’t mess around. In true Bilingual Tiger Mama form our “screen time” is in Spanish.