how to get a toddler to speak spanish

18 Sep

Bedtime. Such a lovely time. The older I get, the more I appreciate bedtime. Bedtime with two toddlers….not so much.

I’m not sure what it is about bedtime that turns kids into Godzilla, but if I could invent a magic pill that would make kids want to go to bed, I would have parents lined up around the block. Bedtime is never a fun time for parents. At our house, we do everything you are supposed to do: we give warnings, we stick to a routine, we give individual attention, we make sure they are fed, we have calm time before bed, we don’t “force” them, we don’t make them cry-it-out, we make it as pleasant as possible. Despite that, the kids can usually find one thing or another to postpone the moment when we turn out the lights and close the door.

Ryan and I handle the never-ending bedtime requests (I have to pee, I need water, just one more book!!) differently. He’s a little more rigid, even if it spurs a tantrum, whereas I play it by ear, meaning that sometimes I give in, sometimes I don’t depending on what I think I can get away with enforcing. Some may call me a softy, I prefer to think of it as a pushover, but whatev. So last night, while putting Sofia to bed, I wasn’t in a softy mood. I had an allergy attack and was desperate to put the kids to bed so that I could load up on Benadryl and knock out for the night. I rushed through her bedtime books and was ready to call it a night when she asked for one more book. Ugh.

“Okay, I will do ONE more. And then bedtime, okay?” I tell her. She nods in agreement. I pick out a fairly short book and fly through it. Well that wasn’t so bad, I figure after I’m done. I put the book down, stand up, turn on the nighttime lullaby bear, and walk to the light switch.

“NOOO! I want the big book,” Sofia wails, whilst kicking and thrashing.

Shit. I sigh. I’m so done. I’m crabby and full of snot. I don’t want to read another book. I put my Mom face on and sternly tell her “It’s time for bed now, Sofia. No more books,” but I can see the tantrum building inside her. oh no. not that! so I keep talking hoping that by some miracle that will stop her from screaming, “We already read our books. It’s time for bed now. Sofia? No…Don’t do that Sofia. Stop pouting. Don’t scream. You’re going to wake your brother up! Sof-” and then it comes. The loud angry cry/scream. It pierces your ears. The cat goes running. I consider following her. And then I remember that as a mom I am not allowed to run away, no matter how big the tantrum.

But now I’m stuck in between a rock and a hard place. I’ve stood my ground and if I back down now, I will be showing her that she can get what she wants by kicking and screaming. But I can tell by the look on her face that she really, REALLY is not going to let this one go. She wants her book. And not just any book, she wants the “big book.” And the safest route seems to be to just read her the book and hope she will be done after that. How can I even be considering this? She’s a 3-year-old for christ sakes. I am an adult. I am her Mom. What I say goes! Right? I’m 29, she’s 3. I can do this. I’m smarter than her, dammit! Feeling renewed, I come up with a quick scheme to outsmart the toddler.

“Okay, Sofia, if you can count to 5 in spanish, then I will read the big book,” I mentally pat myself on the back. This is the perfect plan. She can’t do what I requested and has to go to bed, but she has the impression that she had a choice. It’s a win-win. And as an added bonus, we’ve been trying to get her to speak spanish for months but she has been infuriatingly resistant to it. This will encourage her to learn. Yay me!

Sofia takes out her pacifier and smiles at me. Then she begins, “uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco,” and then puts the pacifier back in her mouth.

I look at her in stunned silence. I don’t know whether to be mad or proud. Either way, I’m reading the book.



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