Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Esta Bien, Amigo

Friday, January 30, 2009

Esta Bien, Amigo

Taking Erik to school in the morning is always an adventure. I never know how I will feel when I walk out the school's front door without him. The old depression that descended on me as soon as I stepped inside faded long ago, but I still occasionally feel a little sad we're still there. These days I am generally very comfortable in the confines of our special education bubble, but I know that this is the last year that we will be enclosed in it full time. Next year Erik will likely spend just a portion of his week in special ed preschool and the remainder in a regular preschool with typical children to prepare him for his transition to kindergarten and the real world.

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.

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Blogger Leesa said...

A brave new world this is. I would love to learn Spanish. Well, I would love to know it without any of the effort it will take for me to know it, actually, but that sounds a lot more self-centered and lazy.


12:27 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Wow that is exciting.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Oh-he and Payton would have so much fun speaking spanish together. Although, Payton's spanish words have only been learned from Dora. The other day after putting a band aid on her, she looked at me and said "MUCHAS GRACIAS!" and if she says Gracias and I say your welcome, she quickly reminds me to say "denada". I could use Rosetta Stone too! Erik amazes me in every post, Nancy. He has come so far and I am so proud of him.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

He's such a doll!!!

Michaela is in Spanich Club at school and LOVES it!!

4:07 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Ahhh, Caleb is obsessed with the Spanish language. Always has been. ??????
He even set his toy laptop to the Spanish setting by himself so he can just immerse himself in Spanish whenever he wants. :)
You are going to have so much fun with your little guy!
Wait and see.

4:32 AM  
Anonymous Erik's Auntie Dee~ta said...

Muy bien Erik!!!

BIG Hugs,

1:36 PM  
Blogger Aspen said...

I love it! Once you both need to come visit us in New Mexico! ;-)

2:40 PM  

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