“On vocabulary test after vocabulary test, Mrs. Braun dragged her red pen across nouns, gleefully deducting points for my ‘bad Spanish.’”
I wrote about Spanglish fluency and getting a B in Spanish for The Believer.
Several weeks into attending my graveyard-adjacent nursery school, my parents noticed something weird. When I got home from school, I’d grab Mom’s or Dad’s hand and take them on a tour, introducing them to household objects. “This is the television. This is a chair. This is a sofa. This is a plate. That is a lamp. This is its switch. The lamp is now off.” My behavior mystified Dad until he realized what I was doing and burst out laughing.
“Bebé,” he called out, “Myriam’s teachers think she can’t speak English! They’ve been trying to teach her! That’s why she acts like a parrot when she comes home! She’s parroting the ‘lessons’ they’re giving her.” He chuckled as hard as he did when he watched Saturday Night Live. While I find it funny that I mimicked these lessons, I also find it a little spooky. Were the “pioneers” posthumously colonizing my vocal cords? Were their ghosts speaking English through me?