Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Language Star

Today my family lived the inevitable leg of a situation that pretty much sums up how out of control my life feels. A few months ago, KJ’s preschool sent out a notice that they would be offering a language program. For some fee, we could sign our kids up to go to a once-a-week, one hour program where our kids would be immersed in the language of our choice. Having struggled through French in high school, and hearing stories of Husband’s experience with college Spanish, I knew foreign languages would not come easily to our kids. So I asked Husband to look into the cost and get back to me.

Husband is a great guy, but follow through is not his strong suit. I repeatedly nagged followed-up with him about the details of the program. I talked about it with him over dinner. Sent him e-mails. I even called him on his way to pick the kids up from daycare to remind him to pick up the information sheet conveniently located in the daycare’s main office. But every night he came home empty handed.

Then, one day, Husband finally did ask someone about the language program. As it turns out, it was not only out of our price range, but it had also started four weeks earlier (See? I wasn’t kidding about the lack of follow through). We thought that was the end of the language program.

But then weird things started happening. One night, while I was at Walmart with KJ and Sweet Pea, KJ started shouting things in Spanish. Keep in mind that I took French. I had no idea what he was saying. I asked him where he learned Spanish, but being a typical three-year-old, he didn’t answer. So, I started thinking about where he could have learned some Spanish. KJ attends a very diverse preschool. A good portion of the kids speak a second language at home. It was possible he picked up some words from a kid there. Plus his “special friend” (read: girlfriend) comes from a bi-lingual home, and using my best guess, her other language is most likely Spanish.  It would make sense if he picked up words from her – they spend tons of time together. Finally, the man who delivers the meals at daycare (and thus enjoys celebrity status) speaks Spanish. I had actually seen him greet the kids in Spanish and tell them the Spanish names for the foods they were eating. In light of all that, it didn’t seem all that weird that KJ knew some Spanish.

Then, one night at dinner I asked KJ how his day was. KJ responded by telling us that he went to the language program that day. “Are you sure?” we asked. Because really, the program was very expensive. It wasn’t likely that they mistakenly took an extra kid. So we asked him who else was in the class, and he named two kids that were actually in his preschool class. We asked him what he learned and he said some word in Spanish. But then we asked him if he left his preschool classroom to go to the language program. And there his story fell apart. KJ said no, he didn’t leave his classroom. Husband and I knew full well that the program took place in a different part of the school. He wasn’t going to the language program if he wasn’t leaving his classroom. It seemed way more likely that KJ mentioned the program because his two friends went to it that day. I suggested to Husband that he talk to KJ’s teacher about it, and didn’t think about it again.

Of course, you know what happens next. Today, weeks after our dinner discussion and over two months since KJ originally broke out the Espanol, daycare approaches Husband and informs him that KJ refused to go to the language class today. Confused, Husband responds that KJ isn’t enrolled in the language program. Turns out, KJ has been going to the program for over two months by mistake. Apparently, someone noted Husband’s tardy inquiry and put KJ on a list to get him in the program ASAP – so ASAP that they didn’t wait for enrollment papers or payment. And while I get this is a sign of a great daycare – after all, it means they understand we working parents might from time to time forget things like enrollment papers or payments for extra-curriculars and still let the kids participate– in this case, it also probably meant we were stuck with KJ in a year-long Spanish program we hadn’t budgeted for (and he apparently didn't like). And, more importantly, it meant that for over two months our kid had been attending a weekly Spanish class and we really had no idea it was happening. I mean, we had some idea, but we didn’t really believe he was going to Spanish class any more than we believe he has “Spiderman eyes.” And we've heard A LOT more about "Spiderman eyes" than we ever heard about Spanish class. 

KJ’s brief flirt with Spanish class seems par for the course for me right now.  I'm swamped at work and feeling like there is no way I can manage my career and the myriad deadlines that go with being a litigator and the extra-curricular activities for my kids.  I already barely make it through the week -- as the kids get more involved in school and sports, I have no idea what I'm going to do. 

I'm further daunted by the fact that I'm challenged to do this from afar.  As the parent that doesn't work at the company associated with daycare, my direct contact is limited, and I have to account and accommodate for my husband's inability to remember anything relating to the kids in everything that needs to be done.  This means texting my husband on the way in to work to remind him to carry the show and tell item from the van to the school, or repeatedly ask him to pick up the papers in the kids' mailboxes. 

On days like today, it seems to be an overwhelming task.  I already feel spread pretty thin, and I don't know how I'm going to handle things as they get more complex, which they are bound to do.  I guess my only hope is that I somehow get better at balancing my work and life.  And pray that the unintended outcomes of my shortcomings are always as good as a few Spanish lessons. 


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