Bilingual Babies

If you are one of my friends/family, you’ve probably (okay, so almost definitely) heard me mention my desire for bilingual babies. Let me start at the beginning (a very good place to start) …

In the spring of 2008, I found myself in Toledo, Spain. Toledo was a lovely city, but a bit on the boring side, once you saw all the pretty views and hiked on the Don Quijote trail once or twice. My friend came to Spain to visit me, and off we went to another city you might recognize: BARCELONA! I don’t know what it is exactly about Barcelona that attracts so many people.

Perhaps it’s its wonderful outdoors market:


Perhaps it’s the enchanting and still unfinished Sagrada Familia:


Perhaps it’s the beautiful Parc Güell


Yes, I was genuinely happy to be in a new city, full of twists and turns and new adventures around every corner. And I do mean things I’d never experienced. Including getting my passport stolen. To make a long story short, my traveling companion and I were both a bit silly and naive, and we left my purse inside his backpack. The thief took the purse, but not the backpack. There was no money, only an iPod, an American cell phone, and my PASSPORT. Yes, that last one stung quite a bit.

To rectify the situation, I went to the American embassy in Madrid. To be honest, I was in the best of moods. I was cranky and desperate to get a replacement passport before my parents came and we jetted off to Paris. (HELLO, City of Lights.) But then something happened that changed me forever.

A woman walked in. Trailing behind her were two little girls with blond curls, about 2 and 4 years old. A tall man brought up the ear, his brown frizzy hair clearly unkempt. The woman was almost obviously Spanish (in the very best way): short, thin, skinny jeans, quality boots. She was all business, ready to get in and out as fast as humanly possible, an attitude with which I sympathized completely. Her little girls were shunted off to the play area, where the embassy had tried to make it easier on harried parents by setting out story books, blocks, and other such things. The little girls were very good. “¡Mira, mira, mami!” said the littlest one, hoping to catch her mother’s attention. Her mother, deep in conversation with an employee, didn’t turn. So, the little girl did what any little girl would do in such a situation: she turned to her daddy. “Look, Daddy! Look!” He, who was not talking, turned to her, give her a big grin, and praised her ability to stack blocks (or something of the sort).

At first, I was unsure of what had just happened. She was 2; there was no way she had learned such things in school, as she probably had never gone to school yet. But, but…how did she learn English then? And then it dawned upon me: her father, the tall, lanky one, was American. It was clear as mud. She was 2 and she was bilingual. I could almost feel my heart skip a beat.


I have not always been a kid person. In fact, I don’t think all babies are cute, and most aren’t until they’re around 4 months. (To all mothers: this is just an opinion.) But I knew right then and there that having bilingual babies will make my little budding philologist heart so very happy. Now, to find a Spanish boy…

Addendum: I got the replacement and visited Paris with my parents just about a week later. But I did not, could not, forget about the bilingual babies.

5 thoughts on “Bilingual Babies

  1. Barcelona was my favorite place in Europe!!! It could be because I speak Spanish conversationally (not fluently) and the culture just amazes me, but it is also so beautiful. My daughter is two and I’m just starting to get her into learning and speaking some Spanish. It’s tough. I don’t think she’ll ever be fluent but I want her to have an understanding of it from an early age. I agree that it is a wonderful thing.

  2. Ooooo — I want bilingual babies too! I have a lot of family in Canada who do English/French; one little girl knew English, French, and Farsi by the time she was three!

    Love your pics of the cathedrals/buildings. Makes me miss Paris. :)

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