Sunday, February 21, 2010

Too Peaceful

Morning Clouds

Maya invited her friend Analia to our house for the day, but in usual Ecuadorian fashion, she arrived two hours after the appointed time. I learned from Analia that Maya never speaks any Spanish at school. I felt chastised when she asked me why Eric and I speak English with Maya when we clearly both speak Spanish and warned me that if we don't figure out a way to help Maya learn the language, she will miss out entirely on learning Spanish. It makes sense that Maya struggles with the other children when she refuses to communicate in their language. Months ago when I was stressing about her language acquisition, the psychologists at the school advised me to back off and give her space and she will learn in her own time. It never occurred to me that she would not learn Spanish this year, naturally, fluidly, easily. My instinct was to push her more, expect more of her, add extra lessons, but I backed off instead, and she continues to refuse to speak anything but English (actually she is doing well in French class and loving it!). Perhaps we will spend a year in Ecuador and she will learn French!

I had Amparo come to the house yesterday to teach Maya for a couple of hours. She brought her 14 year old son Andres, and there was much laughing and jokes and entertainment for all of them. Maya seemed entirely comfortable and appeared to speak freely and easily, and I wondered how it is that she is so at ease with some and not with others. She does not seem shy with Amparo and Andres, but I know that she does not speak Spanish at school because she is self conscious and embarrassed. I have no idea how to manage this, but inviting Amparo and Andres more regularly to the house may be helpful.

I tried to speak Spanish with Analia and force Maya to join in the conversation, but Maya was resistant, and we made little progress. Eric came home from the jungle and urged me to let go of something I cannot control and stress less about it.

My day was too peaceful, in fact these past few days have been far too peaceful for my taste. Republica del Salvador is quiet on the weekend, with most buildings being offices and most businesses closed. The streets were empty, but roars from Atahualpa stadium were evidence of the football season having started. The girls were happy playing Monopoly and Uno and walking to the Supercines for a movie. Mostly I heard 'Spanglish' from them. A quiet and peaceful weekend is exactly what Maya wanted.

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