Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
In 1969, my company, Chevron, called me and asked my wife and me if we would be interested in moving to Spain to look for oil. We had three boys, 9, 11 and 12, at the time. My wife and I almost panicked. We were living in Midland, Texas at the time, and had three "typical" (conservative, crew-cut, YMCA-football) kids and the first thing we did was to look up Spain in an atlas (I kid you not). My company was asking us to move to a fascist (el Caudillo was still alive and well), underdeveloped country with God knows what dangers and a school which had God knows what qualifications.
Fortunately I also called my brother, then a professor of English at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, and poured out our fears. He calmed us down and said, in effect: Look..... no matter what shortcomings you meet at the school, your children will gain so much from learning a new culture and new languages and the excitement of being exposed to travel, you, yourself, could never afford to pay for such an educational experience. Oh! Was he ever right!!
When we returned to the States, our youngest had a great deal of trouble with English. He would dream in Spanish but during the day, he would confuse English verb endings because of his Spanish background and did poorly in High School. One day he asked my wife for a "hoe". She told him to look in the garage because that's where we kept our garden implements. He replied, "No, Mom, I want a "hoe" like you wear". It turned out that he had seen an episode on TV where someone robbed a bank by putting a ladies hose over his face. He figured (because of Spanish) that if "hose" was plural, then certainly "hoe" had to be singular. Our kids became fluently bi-lingual and tri-lingual in one case. They have flourished.
12 July 2003
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