I was talking to my really good friend the other day. She happens to be Romanian. Her husband is Dutch. They have lived in various countries where French, English, and German have been the predominant languages. So her preschooler can speak any given number of those languages. Probably without an accent, too.
Oh. The jealousy.
It is a proven fact that it's easier for children to learn languages. The younger that they are, the easier it comes. I read about it in a trustworthy magazine somewhere, although I don't remember where, but it was probably at a doctor's office, so it's true.
At the beginning of the school year, I was alarmed to see that my daughter was going to have one day a week of Spanish as part of her school curriculum. My daughter was going to know a language that I did not. It's bad enough that my husband speaks Spanish and Russian. I find it intolerable if he knows stuff I don't know, let alone my 5 year old. Since my neural pathways are hardening as we speak, I decided that I needed to remedy the situation with all possible rapidity. (Great word. Rapidity. Sounds so Dickensian.) Spanish strikes me as taking less effort to learn than Russian, so I decided to start there.
My neighbor down the street is from Peru, so she offered to come over and teach me. We started with the months of the year. (Which, by the way, seemed a little odd to me because on a list of "critical to know" phrases in any foreign language the months of the year wouldn't be at the top of my list. From my personal experience, the most important phrases to know would be "Where is the bathroom?","How much does it cost?","Is there any alcohol in this?", and "Uh-oh. I think I'm starting my period." You do not want to have to resort to charades to be understood, trust me.)
I dutifully committed the months of the year to my memory and began working on the days of the week. Numbers. Members of the family. I even made some flashcards.
But it was always lurking that my daughter's neural pathways were speeding along, and she and her dad would have a special Spanish Speakers Only club.
But tonight we were driving home and she started babbling in some incoherent language, so I babbled back. We exchanged nonsense back and forth for several minutes, and then I said "That was a great made-up language!"
Her eyes looked at me seriously in the rear view mirror and she said "Mama, THAT was not a pretend language. THAT was Spanish."
And BOY was I surprised! Because I didn't even know I spoke Spanish already. I guess I don't need those lessons after all.