I called the mother of one of my students yesterday.
I wanted to tell her that her son is brilliant. That he doesn’t understand that he’s brilliant, and that he tries harder than any student I have ever had the honor to teach. His English is imperfect but his courage is impeccable. His essay moved me to tears. I wanted to thank her for raising such a son.
I knew there was a good chance she might not speak English. I tried to bribe my husband into calling her. He gave me the eyebrow.
She answered on the third ring:
“Hello. Is this [student]’s mother?”
“No espeak English.”
“Oh. Okay. Um.”
“Well. Um. Hola. No hablo espanol muy bueno. Pero. Su hijo… el es un estudiante maravillosa. Uh…. El es un… el escrib…e uh, muy bueno? Estoy… muy…”
Happy. How can I not remember the word for happy? This may be the first time I have tried to put my Spanish speaking skills to practical, unrehearsed use, and my Canadian background is betraying me. Every foreign word I can think of is French. Spanish, think SPANISH.
“Um. Mucho gusto?”
I realize that I probably just told her that I like the taste of her son.
“Um. Er. Gracias por su hijo. Usted es una buena madre.”