He kept his head down, mumbled “I don’t understand,” and shuffled his feet.
We had awkward, forced play dates at the park. He perched on my lap, and whined in my ear, wanting to escape to the safety of our house, his legos, and English.
“Go play,” I said.
“They don’t like me,” he answered.
We started to wear jackets, and then Halloween costumes. Then it was Christmas.
“Muy timido,” the other parents said.
“Siiiiii,” I answered.
There was a song and dance presentation for the holidays. He participated in the back row, watching carefully, his little arms slightly behind the others. His brow was furrowed in concentration, but he tried. He was there.
I started hearing more names around the table. Maria, Ivan, Manuel, Javi or Oscar. Requests for play-dates and sleepovers. No more lingering hugs at drop-0ff.
But still, no Spanish. “I forget it when I get home,” he said. “But I can speak it at school.”
Yesterday, we went to a birthday party. And there is was—Spanish. Past tense. Future tense. Subjunctive. Flowing freely and rapidly, with a touch of an accento Andaluz.
I watched him hop from step to step and squabble with his classmates. Blonder than some of them, but unmistakably a peer.
Mi pequeno bilingue.