Esta Bien, Amigo
On Wednesday morning I stood at the front desk at the school taking care of some paperwork when the metal doors clanged open and revealed a teacher struggling to carry a flailing, tear-streaked boy who had been freshly extracted from the school bus parked outside. He was emitting the most desperate, frightened scream that reached a decibel level I have not known before. As they made their way down the hall to the classrooms, the noise only seemed to intensify and bounce off every bare surface in the hallway. I finished talking to the clerk at the front desk, gathered my things, and quickly made my way out into the sunshine, hoping the poor little boy would not blow Erik's eardrums with his yowling or transform him into a slumped over, trembling, frightened mess. I walked up the hill to my vehicle and didn't look back.
Today we entered the classroom, and Erik greeted an aide named Martha by brightly saying, "Hello, Ms. Hola." Martha is Hispanic and bilingual, and Erik formerly believed her name was actually "Hola," as that is the first word she would say to him each morning at school. He seems to have caught on but still enjoys this interaction and refuses to use her real name most of the time. Martha said, "Hola, my little amigo," and Erik giggled.
Sitting on the shoddy, avacado-colored couch in the back of the room was a father with his two children, one of whom I identified as the frightened little boy with the amazing lungs I encountered in the hall earlier in the week. The man smiled at me, and I smiled back. Erik approached all of them, held their hands, and said, "Hello, good friends." Martha said something in Spanish to the father about Erik knowing some of the language, and he smiled down at Erik, who began to chat a little with them using the Spanish he now knows. The adults in the room giggled. Erik was using words I had never heard before. On my way out the door, Erik's teacher stopped me and quietly explained that they had previously calmed the upset boy using Spanish phrases, and Erik remained by the child's side despite the noise, repeating each word carefully and correctly, seeming to understand that the words were soothing and wanting to help. His teacher was amazed.
There is apparently a bilingual preschool in the neighborhood, and it has been suggested to me that Erik might enjoy some immersion in Spanish. My mind was a little blown, as I never thought of this before, but Erik absolutely loves learning new words and loves language. Of course, that would mean I would need a little immersion, too.
Rosetta Stone, here I come.