Tuesday, July 3, 2012

More, Por Favor.

My husband and I are at the mercy of a hostile two-year-old girl. She is demanding. She is cranky. She speaks Spanish and we don't. She also speaks some sort of mispronounced toddler talk that all toddlers speak, but when you add in the foreign language, our mystification goes into overdrive. We don't know what the hell she's talking about.

"Más!" she yells from her high chair, banging her bowl on her tray.

"More, please," we say. Because we are patient, older parents we don't El Strangle her.

"Más PAYAYOO!" she hollers and bangs the bowl harder.

"What is she saying?" my husband asks, looking tired and bewildered.

"She said 'Más, por favor."

"'Payayoo' is por favor?"

"Si," I say and hand him another bowl of Lucky Charms. Or "Amaletos de la Suerte."

The reason our daughter speaks a language that neither one of us speaks is because my friend watches Grace while I'm at work. My friend is half-Colombian and she read that children who are bilingual have gigantic, bi-functioning brains which basically turns them into a race of super humans who will take over the world. So my friend speaks to my daughter in Spanish. It has resulted in the trilingual toddler we have today — and much confusion.

When we walk Grace to the park, she is happy to yell, "HOLA!" to the people we pass by on the sidewalk. When she sees the sky she points up at it and yells, "AZUL!" The grass, "VERDE!" And if a red bike happens to speed past us, she is sure to announce, "ROJO!"

When I'm at the park, I am somewhat embarrassed when the other parents hear my tiny dictator yelling, "MAS SWINGS! MAS SWINGS!" or when she points at their child who is wearing a blue shirt and says, "AZUL!" Which actually sounds more like, "ASSHULE!"

"Yes, that IS a BLUE shirt, Grace! Such a nice BLUE SHIRT!" I say and smile weakly at the offended parent, who clearly hates me.

I can never tell if the parent is more put off by the fact that my tiny dictator just called their golden-haired angel an asshole, or that I'm such a pretentious asshole that I'm teaching my child Spanish. They probably think I'm like those parents on The Real Housewives of New York, the couple who spoke to their kids in French and named them something like Jean Jacques and Francois.

Oh my god. People think my husband and I are Simon and Alex!

¡Ay, caramba! 

In addition to Spanish language, Grace is also learning about the Hispanic culture. For instance, one day when I came to pick her up I noticed she was drinking some sort of tan substance in her sippy cup.

"What is that?" I asked my friend. "Is she drinking chocolate milk?" I cocked my head to the side and narrowed my eyes.

"Oh, that!" my friend laughed. "She saw me drinking coffee and she wanted some! She kept trying to drink it out of my cup. So cute! So I gave her some of her own."

"I...uh...she...I'm sorry, what?" I stammered, my mouth hanging open.

"Oh, don't worry! It's decaf!" my friend said, laughing and waving me off with a Colombian flick of the wrist.

Apparently it's normal in Columbia to serve babies shots of espresso. I now expect to pick up my daughter and find her sitting at her tiny table and chairs. Perhaps she'll have a tiny cup of café in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

"Hola, Mami," she'll say and continue speaking in Spanish to her dolls and stuffed animals. The doll is a refugee from Columbia who left her lover there in the hands of a notorious drug cartel. The bear is an ex-pat from France. He writes short stories and freelances for the New York Times. Hello Kitty is here on a study abroad program from Tokyo. She likes the electronic music festival in Detroit and finds the shopping superb.

They all turn and look at me like the rube I am.

"¿Quieres un café, mamá?" she'll ask.

Well, at least she's learning some manners, I'll think as I sit down to have a cup with her friends.


  1. I think superbrain bilingual babies are fantastic! I did chuckle at the idea of a 2-year-old with a cig in a coffee shop.

  2. Coffee at age two - they grow up fast, don't they? I love that she calls the other kids assholes. Teaches them for wearing the same old blue shirts!

  3. I love it! The best my kid can do is count to 5, poorly, in Spanish.

  4. In the long term, she will benefit from being bi-lingual AND from being a dictator. And her mom is one funny story-teller.

  5. @Henri B: She is very chic.

    @Wow: You would be a bad influence. I see that now. I'm taking you off the babysitter list.

    @The Random Blogette: I have learned a lot of Spanish from her. Oddly enough.

    @Stacia Momany: She's pretty funny. I don't know how to translate that into Spanish.

    @Blissed Out G-ma: If her personality survives adolescence, no man will ever mess with her. We feel confident in that.

  6. You'll definitely be in trouble if she hands you her sippy cup in the park and demands, "Mass espresso!" ...and the Mother of the Year goes to... ;) Hilarious post!

  7. She's either going to be flamenco dancing after her caffeine kicks in or dressing all in black and demanding you take her to the local coffee house. NOT Starbucks...the LOCAL one.

    Good luck with that.

  8. Mas swings!! hahahah... Oh brother. At least it's not German! :) Lots of kids in my area are in those spanish immersion classes. Hopefully it comes in handy someday!

  9. So, I'm curious - does she know there are two languages or is it all one big language to her with a lot of synonyms?

    I think this is awesome, except for the azul part.

    You're just have to use one of those translator apps on your iPhone. Some of them work surprisingly well!

  10. I laughed so hard I cried....literally

  11. Ohmigosh…loved this post. Just…all of it. My daughter also loves coffee. We give her a bit of our decaf Americanos in a tiny espresso cup. It's adorable/obnoxious. Shrug.

  12. I still refer to my eldest, the redhead, as Senior Rojo. At 13 he's mortified.

    And I laughed outloud at "asshule." When I was living in Mexico I constantly mixed up "tengo hambre" (I have hunger) with "tengo hombre" (I have man). Yeah, everyone thought it was hilarious.

  13. um, THIS IS HILARIOUS!!!!!! your little trilingual daughter is very entertaining!

  14. You and the Husband are DEFINITELY NOT Alex and Simon. I thought we'd already established that you're Charlize Theron, and your husband reminds me of Linus Roache. You know, just to teach her a lesson you should start speaking to her in German. It's kind of a punishment in and of itself.

  15. Please tell me that The Husband wears a thong when you vacay at the beach, just like Simon. That would make my life.

  16. Better learn her language! LOL.

  17. Speaking as someone who is half Colombian, I really think I need to step up my multicultural game here. It sounds like your toddler is making me look muy estupido.

  18. AH!

    My heart!

    She is a mini me.

    Just today I told the kids in the day care where I work that I would get coffee in my baby bottle.

    They didn't believe me.

    Ha! Here it is.

  19. @Padded Cell Confessions: I'm sure she'd want a double shot.

    @Michon: I'm hoping it's just a stage... ;-)

    @Erin: German would actually suit her.

    @Eva: We were discussing this last night. I think because she mixes English and Spanish words, that it might be one enormous language with many synonyms.

    @Colunbian Corazon: I'm sure you heard her voice as you read this!

    @Melanie Crutchfield: I like that. Adorable/Obnoxious describes most children.

    @Chantel: Having a man is something to be very proud of. You know that.

    @DrollGirl: You wanna babysit?

    @Blonde Steel: My husband speaks it. I should put him on that.

    @Twill: Yes but it would ruin mine.

    @Linda: Ay yi yi!

    @You're Lucky I Don't Have A Gun: I didn't know you were half-Columbian!

    @The Empress: Yes. Here it is. In my daughter's hands. Laugh!

    @Moo Goo: And I love you, Michelle. <3

  20. Oh wow. I loved everything about this post. Including your reaction to hearing the sippy cup is full of decaf.

  21. Awesome... You guys are so patient. I'd be strangling the caregiver at this point!

  22. Grace is totally becoming an international diplomat who brings peace to the Middle East. Or maybe she'll become a Spanish teacher. Either way, awesome.

  23. Wait until she starts watching "Ni Hao, Kai Lan." Then one day she'll say "Thank you" in perfectly accented Mandarin as you pickup your Chinese takeout(true story).

    That's in addition to the occasional bout of Spanish that gets thrown in gratuito.

    Great post, and I'm sure her 'sitter' only has the best of intentions.

  24. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW GOOD THIS IS?! Okay...sorry. I adore this post..and you...and your daughter...and her babysitter. The end.

  25. This is fucking hilarious, I am roaring with laughter! And if I could write "fucking hilarious" in Spanish, I would. My children are bilingual, and unfortunately, my 16year old is an asshule, and I blame it on his superior intelligent resulting from the bilingualism. So beware. I think cigarettes and coffee are the least of your problems...now excuse me while I search for a tissue to wipe the streaming mascara from my cheeks.

  26. OMG, I love this post. My children are also dictators, but without the bilingual part.


  27. Aaaawww, you're learning Spanish through your daughter! Next time she points out a bike and yells out ROJO slap her hand, explain to her it's ROJA because a bike, in Spanish, is feminine. Don't ALL 2 yr-olds know that?


  28. This is exactly why, on my July 2012 Love List, I referred to you as "Insightful mommy blogger that doesn't bug." Here is the link:


    Keep up the awesomeness. Whoot!

  29. Ha ha! This was an enjoyable post to read.

  30. Writing
    Oh wow. I loved everything about this post. Including your reaction to hearing the sippy cup is full of decaf.

  31. hey, no fair! I used the phrase "Ay, Carumba!" in my post today, too.

    I'm calling plagiarism! :)

  32. off topic, but thank you for the birthday words! glad to hear i am not the only one over 40. YAY! lol

  33. My son's best friends as a preschooler were three little girls with a wonderful nanny who spoke to them in Spanish. So, he would request "con leche, por favor" with his food and the like, and sing in Spanish. He also pronounced certain English words and phrases with a Venezuelan flair. He was blond and looked just like his dad, not me, and I have a twangy southern accent, so people where we live just outside Washington, D.C. probably took me for the babysitter. Life is so much more interesting now!

  34. El Strangle almost made me pee myself. And Alex and whatshername were the absolute worst.

  35. I love that she calls the other kids assholes. Teaches them for wearing the same old blue shirts!
    thesis help

  36. I was laughing so hard at the "azul/asshule" remark, but then I totally lost it when you described her espresso party with the Colombian refugee, the ex-pat French bear who writes short stories, and the study-abroad Hello Kitty from Japan! HILARIOUS!!

    1. Aw, thank you! Now I have to get my butt over to your post and read it!

  37. So happy to have bumped into you again and wanted to read up...Congrats on the BlogHer award. Again, more people complimenting you and saying nice things. It's a positive conspiracy!

  38. Mandy - this is really funny! I enjoyed the writing and the humor. Ah, the joys of parenthood that await me :)

  39. LMFAO!!!! I'm still laughing at this post... so damn funny. I am from Colombia too and I read the parts in Spanish with this accent, which actually would make it even funnier.

    Smart kid I tell you lol

    I do agree, you are seriously funny :)