Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I've posted before about how Owen and Kyle greet Chinese people in Chinese (click here for example). Yesterday, they again amazed me (and, I must admit, shocked me!) with their linguistic dexterity and ethnic differentiation. I was dropping them off at daycare. Kyle was already unbuckled and was climbing out of the car. I was working on getting Owen out of his carseat. An older gentleman was walking along the sidewalk in front of the car. He was dark skinned and appeared to be Hispanic. I didn't think anything of it, hardly even noticed the man, until suddenly, both boys start shouting to the man at the top of their lungs-- "¡Hola!" The man stopped dead in his tracks and turned to face our car. The boys yelled it even louder -- "¡Hola! ¡Hola! ¡Hola!" The man, absolutely delighted, face glowing, and eyes twinkling, waved and shouted back, "¡Hola!" Kyle and Owen, now smiling and absolutely delighted too, jumped out of the car and ran up to the man. Owen, looking right up at him, then says, "Buenos días!" And the man was beside himself with delight -- "Buenos días!" he said back, smiling ear-to-ear. And with that K & O were off and running and skipping and jumping to the daycare door. I waved goodbye to the man and ran after the boys. Once inside the toddler room I asked the staff about this -- "Have you ever seen them do that?" I said. "Yes!!!" they all said, "All the time!" They explained that when the boys are playing outside and they see this man walk by (he lives in the complex where the daycare center is located), they run to the play-yard fence and shout "¡Hola!" and "Buenos días!" back-and-forth with him. They said that the boys also do this with other Hispanic folks who they see walking on the sidewalk. I said, "Who taught them that?" And the daycare teachers said, "We thought you taught them that????" "No, I haven't taught them that!" O.k., Kyle and Owen have definately have watched their fair share of Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go videos... I mean, they've been exposed to some real basic preliminary spanish in those videos (just like millions of other American toddlers obsessed with Dora and Diego have been). And they have a couple of teachers at daycare who speak spanish. But I had never before witnessed them actually identify an Hispanic-looking person and say "¡Hola!" until yesterday. One thing is for certain: from the look on his face, I think it is safe to say that it definately made that guy on the sidewalk's day (oh, and it made my day too!).

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