American in Spain

State of the Offspring Address - July 2012

July 31, 2012
Rueda y Rubia

We're ending this month without our dear Nora at home. She left, on July 28, with her Spanish grandparents to go with them on vacation for three weeks in Extremadura, a hot arid region in southern Spain. She's having a ball down there, but when she talks on the phone to us, she has finally learned enough about evaluating her own emotions to wimper, "I feel sad because I went away. I want you to come here with me." It's simultaneously cute and heartbreaking. We will be going down there to spend the second of her three weeks with her. Like all Spaniards learning English, she continues to struggle with the proper English usage of the word "yet". She will often say "yet no" instead of "not yet". Strangely she's pretty good about respecting the different ordering of adjectives and their nouns in both languages. She only said "I want water cold" a half dozen times before learning to say "I want cold water".

Another common mistake that native Spanish speakers all make along their journey to learn English is to say, "Remember me to do that." If you think about it, "remember" in that context is a perfectly reasonable substitute for "remind", and "remind" need not exist at all. That's the way it is in Spanish. Nora is constantly telling me that she's going to "remember me to buy chocolate pudding when we go to the store".

Friends and Neighbors

Receiving a hug from our neighbor, Gabriela, who walks and talks and won't be two years old for another couple months.

Nora had one cute exchange with her mother this month about household responsibilities.

Mommy, I want to wear [some article of clothing].

You can't, because it's dirty.


Because we forgot to do the laundry.

No, YOU forgot to do the laundry!

Obviously that kind of attitude shan't be tolerated, but its first manifestation was rather adorable.

In Front of her School

This is the school she will be attending in September.

Several days this month, on our way back from our morning shopping, Nora has told me, "Poppy, I have an idea!" A lot of our conversations start like this now. "Let's take this stuff home," she continues, "and then go out to a bar for a drink!" She's learned there are some things her Poppy never says no to. I'll include an address to which my parenting award may be shipped.

Rueda y Rubia

Nora continues to find ways to implant ideas in others' heads. She will almost never say, "I want that [candy or toy]" or "I want to do X", rather she's found a more subtle tack of stating, "I like that [candy or toy]" or "I like doing X". Let me tell you, it is really, really easy to fall into her trap and say, "Okay, well let's do that then!" I wasn't expecting to need defense against this kind of social engineering with a three-year-old!

One morning, when we came downstairs and I went to sit on the couch, the cushion was weirdly placed. Nora saw me fixing it and explained that, the previous night, when she had been watching Dora alone in the living room, she had had an accident. "What kind of accident?" I inquired. She confessed that she had peed on the couch, but that – and she was proud of this part – rather than tell Mommy or Poppy, she had simply turned the couch cushion over so the wet side was facing down!

One day after she refused to say buenos dí­as to all the people at the local grocery store, I correspondingly refused to give her a piece of bread, which is her usual reward for giving everyone a salutation. When we got back home, she had clearly been ruminating on her behavior, and she explained that "When I am bad, that is little, and when I'm good, that's very big!" She could've been espousing the American "bigger is better" culture, but I think she really wanted to downplay her bad behavior and highlight her good behavior. Yet another example of toddler politics.

The State of the Offspring is strong!

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