Today, the boys and I were eating lunch with some friends at a beach cafe. The sun pressed on my shoulders like a lead blanket, and I fanned the menu in front of my face. I sipped my tinto de verano and watched as my son ran up to me from the shoreline.
“Mama!” he called, “Quiero jugar arriba.” He pointed to the raised platform of the fishing corrales.
“No,” I replied.
“Porque no?” he asked.
“Es peligroso,” I said. “No es possible, vale?”
His shoulders slumped and he grumbled, “Vale,” trudging back to the utter misery of playing by the beach with one of his best friends.
I turned to my friend, a fellow American, and said, “What was that?”
She smiled, tipped back her drink and said, “I know, right? Spanish school.”
Both of my kids have been in Spanish summer school for about a month. And my seven year old’s language is exploding. Words tumble from his lips, as if released from restraints. The syllables scamper about, sniffing at the ground, and jumping. Finally free.
Within months, he will outpace me. My cousins were in town this week, and in a restaurant, the bathroom was locked. While I was still trying to recall the word for keys, my son had bellied up to the bar, retrieved said keys, and ordered himself a bottle of juice.
My younger son, presumably the one who would have an easier go of it, understands much, but does not speak. It worries me. But, I do believe he would have done the same thing in American Kindergarten. He’s an observer, a warmer-upper, a noticer of small things.
Both of my sons open doors for me. My oldest teaches me how to be fearless. My youngest reminds me to find wonder in a snail, or a blade of grass, or in our shadows mingling near the sand.
They humble me. Could I live somewhere else, and attend a school where nobody knows my name? Or speaks my language? Could I ask to climb on the rocks, to walk along the very edge of the ocean?
I like to think that I could. And I would.
But they already are. They are opening new doors, and will continue to show me the way.