Last night, I went to eat at Nicky’s with my ten-year-old twin sons. As is typical in Chicago, Nicky’s is a hot dog / hamburger restaurant that is Greek-owned, but you only see anyone of Greek descent during regular business hours. Yesterday was Sunday, so all the cooks were Mexican. They took my order in English and spoke to me in broken English. Anyway, when my son finished drinking his pop, he asked me if they would refill it. I wasn’t sure, so I asked him to go to the counter and ask. I like to teach my sons to be independent and responsible. So he asked for a refill and got it. While refilling the cup, the cook asked my son, “¿Hablas español?” My son just stared at him. You see, my son does not speak Spanish and I am truly embarrassed by this! I was waiting for the cook to give me reproaching look, but he didn’t. My son just walked back and said, “I don’t know what he said.”
I’ve tried to teach my sons Spanish, but it’s an uphill battle. Their mother, my ex-wife, is a Mexican like me; raised in a Spanish-speaking Mexican home, but born in the USA. While we were still married, I always spoke to my oldest son in Spanish at home and he attended a day care center run by nuns from Mexico. So he actually spoke Spanish when he was younger. However, my ex would never want to speak Spanish. As he got older, he only wanted to speak English like his mother who had more influence over him than me. Whenever I spoke Spanish, my son would tell me, “Talk the regular way!” So when the twins were born seven years later, I was the only person speaking Spanish at home. I was foreigner in my own home.
Fortunately, they attend a school that teaches Spanish. My oldest son once came home bragging that he got a C in Spanish! I was so embarrassed! I wondered if perhaps the teacher was too demanding, so I asked, “Did anyone get an A?” “Oh, yeah, Tommy Sullivan.” ¡Ay, ay, ay!