I recently enrolled my two young boys in the local Spanish school so they could integrate with the community in a proper way. I consider this important: not only do the boys make new Spanish friends but Mummy has the job of escorting them to various after-school activities - such as football practise and birthday parties - which forces social interaction with other Spanish parents. Outside the world of 'el colegio', these fellow members of society would surely be overlooked because of the inability to conduct a coherent and meaningful conversation that doesn't result in gesticulating and blustering over lost and forgotten words. Muy embarazoso!
At a Spanish kids' sixth birthday bash held in the function room of a local bar last week, for example, Mummy was somewhat priveleged to be the sole English parent. So there I was: brandishing a cheese sandwich containing excessive amounts of butter and vaguely wondering whether it would look 'malo' to procure a social-nerve-calming glass of vino. As none of the other parents were openly drinking alcohol, the vino was vetoed. The cheese sandwich became heavy and dropped to the floor (worse than 'los ninos' - oops). A fellow parent said that my youngest son is in the same class as her three-year-old but I initially misheard it as "why is he here - does he know the birthday boy". Oblivious to my slightly awkward feelings, Oldest Son dived straight into the fray, chasing the birthday boy around and brandishing balloon swords. The Spanish parents seem to encourage 'fun sparring', for want of a better word. I was relieved when the party ended so we could return to the 'comfort zone' of our own house and the wood-burning stove. After accidentally tipping a plate of half-eaten, gooey birthday cake over a table at the back of the room, it seemed prudent to leave quite quickly.
Last week's encouraging example of integration by Oldest Son was sadly counteracted by this week's incident of the 'bolsa in the bin'. All the kids have a school rucksack ('mochila') and, when school Comedor (dining room) ended yesterday, Oldest Son's rucksack was strangely missing. Following a fruitless 20min search of the playground, Mummy took to ranting at random adults re "la bolsa es perdida" and "donde esta un habitacion para propeidad perdida", which nobody seemed to take on board. In view of the general lack of progress, the hunt was abandoned. This morning, an English Mum emerged from the play area to say that the bag had later been spotted in the bin: however, the school caretaker (a lady in her 40s) wasn't sure what I was ranting on about yesterday. The bag was duly returned, albeit a bit dirty. Mummy knows who put the bag in the bin (an older Spanish boy). The culprit possibly hopes his crime against personal property and hygenie will be 'lost in translation'. He's probably right!
Meanwhile, Oldest Son (5) and Youngest Son (3) are already coming home from school and repeating Spanish words and phrases in perfect Andalus accents. They've only been "integrating" for two months and their capacity to take on board 'un otro idioma' is clearly more akin to "absorbent little sponge" (kids) than "village idiot" (Mummy). I'm not sure whether to be proud or slightly jealous... neither of them suddenly slips into a Home Counties "a" when pronouncing "vado" or accidentally pronounces the "h" on "hombre". Oldest Son already talks about "Speederman". Cool. Maybe he can pronounce my van numberplate in correct Spanish letters of the alphabet when I next book airport parking services.
Or maybe Mummy needs to go to school herself, and 'muy rapido' The fact that I've widely mistranslating "the school" as "upon straining" when speaking to townspeople isn't entirely inspiring re keeping up with the five-year-olds!