I'm an American, and proud of it.
I am also of Mexican descent.
Both of my parents were born in Mexico, and came to these great United States in their youth.
I learned how to speak Spanish, only because my (Grandma) Abuelita Clemen who took care of me when I was little, did not speak English. She spoke to me only in Spanish, thus I learned to speak the language.
My parents spoke only English at home. No espanol.
I am a child of the eighties.
Teased hair, Z. Cavarrici pants, blue eyeliner and frosted pink lipstick.
I went to a Catholic High School, and was a typical American teenager.
In my youth I got a job working for Pacific Bell, in the Hispanic Center.
The Hispanic Center was a call center, that took customer service calls from all of PacBell's Spanish-speaking customers.
I spoke Spanish all day, every day, and really began to master the language.
Even my Abuelito Adal was impressed. We had many conversations about telephone service. My Grandpa and I would talk about long distance carriers and about why his bill was so high. I would relate some humorous story or another about this customer and that customer.
Those were some good times, good memories...and all because I was a Spanish-speaking machine.
After I left that job, my awesome Spanish skills began to wane. I tried to "practice" by speaking in only Spanish to Oscar (who does not speak Spanish), but that didn't last long.
He would look at me blankly until I would just give up, and revert back to good old ingles (english...see, I still got it).
After Sabrina was born, I would constantly get the riot act from my Grandma.
Her: "Mija, porque no le hablas en espanol a la nina?"
(Why don't you speak Spanish to Sabrina)
Me: (Sheepishly) "Pues, si le hablo en espanol...."
(I do speak Spanish to her) Liar, Liar pants on fire.....
Her: "Pues no creo que le estas hablando en espanol...por que no me entiende!"
(I don't think you are speaking to her in Spanish because she doesn't understand me)
Me: "Ummmm.....no se por que....."
(Ummm, I don't know why..)
But of course I knew why the girl didn't understand my Abuelita, because I really wasn't speaking to her in Spanish. Aye, ya yay!
So everytime I would see my Grandma, she would tell me what a dis-service I was doing my daughter. Dios mio, the guilt, but she was right.
So now, Sabrina is almost ten, and asks me constantly why she doesn't know how to speak Spanish, except what she learned by watching Dora the Explorer as a toddler.
You know the words, probably the same ones you or your own toddler know...
"Bate, bate chocolate"
"Si se puede" (this one, sadly ironic, since it means "Yes you can").
Lucky for me, my Abuelita is still around. She's 86 years old, and as sharp as a tack. I adore that lady more than I can put into words.
When her and Sabrina get together, it is quite an interesting scene as the communication dance starts between them, but somehow they manage.
I still say a few Hail Mary's every night to lessen my guilt though.