Though I shudder to even type this out loud, this is the last week of school.  Tigger is winding up her 4th grade year, while Little Bit is completing kindergarten.  At our school, the end of kindergarten brings with it a momentous decision: we must choose which foreign language the child will study from grade 1 through grade 8.   


The school offers Spanish, French, Chinese, and German.  During kindergarten the kids got a taste of all four.  How does one choose?


The school counsels parents to talk with the children about their preferences, and to remember that the main goal is learning to learn a language, more than learning the language in question.  Huh.


So I asked Little Bit what she liked best, and as I expected, her preferences mostly had to do with the quality of the games played in class.  The French teacher, it seems, was the most fun this year.  Well, I’m sorry to tell you this, kid, but other parents have told me that the older French students get more homework and have more tests than the students in other languages.


Learning to learn is all well and good, but the fact remains that Spanish is by far the most useful language to know in the U.S., next to English of course. 


This afternoon I found an ad on Craigslist for a lawn care professional.  I called at 2 pm and before 7 a woman who spoke English with an accent and her husband who spoke English not at all arrived to give me an estimate.  I think they are Mexican, though I guess they could be from another Central or South American country. 


Since the national hullabaloo is all about immigration these days (helps distract the public from that pesky war, dontcha know), I did wonder if they were legal.  It seemed like a rude question to ask, though, kind of like asking a couple, “are you legally married or are you living in sin?”  So I didn’t.


Really, I don’t think it is any of my beeswax.  I run a small biz too (freelance writing), and my clients never ask me if I’m a legal resident of this country, if I hold a business license, if I pay my taxes.  If I don’t, that’s between me and the long arm of the law, in’it?


The lawn folks quoted me the going rate for my neighborhood and fit me into their schedule, with service to begin in a few days.  Legal or not, they are working their butts off, performing useful work and collecting honest pay. 


If they are not legal, I don’t believe they are taking jobs away from native born workers.  It’s not like anyone was standing in line to mow my lawn.  Back in the day, lawn mowing was a job for a teenaged boy.  And if some local kid had knocked on my door and said, “Your lawn looks like it was mowed by a blind, drunk squirrel.  Want me to do it next time?” I would gladly have hired him.  Didn’t happen.


So I signed Little Bit up for Spanish.  She already knows a little.  When the lawn folks were on their way out, Little Bit said, “Hola!  Como estas?”  Or something like that.  It’s been many years since I studied Spanish.  Good thing the kids will be here to interpret for me.



18 thoughts on “

  1. Yes, and the important thing is that the lawn is being well taken care of despite the lack of people lining up to do so.I am proud of your little bit, whether or not it was her desire to do so.(salutes)Cheers!

  2. What a great program to have them study the same language all the way through 8th grade!  I’ve always thought it was goofy to BEGIN teaching languages in highschool, when they have little sponge brains in the primary years. 
    And incidentally, Papa Bear and I have been watching and reading a lot about Ron Paul, the only Republican candidate who’s for gettting the heck out of Iraq. . .I don’t know if he can win, but he’s got my vote for the primary.  I have Libertarian leanings anyway.

  3. Hola,  Yea, I work with a lot of immigrants and they work hard and do jobs we “Americans” think should be done automatically.  (When will they develop the Roomba lawn mower?  I mean the technology exists, but then again when a vaccum jumps it’s fence it can’t kill the neihbors cat…)  I think Spanish is great.  Have fun Lil-Bit.

  4. Yeah, I’m always hearing how you can hire teenagers to mow your lawn, clean your house, babysit your kids–but I’m not sure where those mythical creatures live.  Not in my neighborhood.

  5. Unemployment is quite low right now so hire who you wish. 🙂
    No matter what other language the kids take it’s great that your schools starts so early. Quite a nice benefit compared to other places of the country where they begin in High school.

  6. I’m sure Little Bit will do well with Spanish.  She likes math, and I think the same part of the brain controls the ability to learn both.  Music is in there too, someplace.  How are the piano lessons coming along?

  7. Your children’s school is amazing, the kind of place I would have loved to go. I love foreign languages, but we only start offering them in ninth grade. I’m sure your older daughter’s knowledge of Spanish already surpasses mine. That said, my parents also made me take Spanish because it is the most useful language, despite my valient plea to take French. Even though I know fully well that Spanish is the most useful foreign language (especially where I live, in California), I still vaguely resent not being able to take French. The way I see it, I don’t plan in living in California or the United States for the rest of my life, and I was/am truly interested in French in a way I’m not with Spanish. I think it’s true that the hardest language to learn is one you hate and the easiest is one you love. That said, I’m not saying our situations are the same, since I was about 14 when my parents decided to make me take Spanish, and your daughter is going into 1st grade. Something tells me a 14-year-old has a better idea of what they want.

  8. Interesting days to be alive in. I wonder what it will be like in 50 more years. I think immigration is more important than a mere distraction, but I could be wrong.Lots of places have to put up fences to keep their people in, so America must have it right on some level. And it’s just being neighborly to share that with anyone who wants a slice of the pie, too. May your lawn be ever so green and trim!

  9. RYQ, yeah, I think organic is a big move in the right direction. No bGH, for sure, or antibiotics. Certifying to be organic is a pretty stringent program, we checked into it and backed out due to costs for such a small operation.  I think it is not a ruse.

  10. I’m sure Little Bit will do much better with foreign language studies than I did. I took three years of French in High School and all I ever learned was to say two or three really suggestive things in French which has not been particularly useful. Wait a minute…there was that one trip to Montreal…

  11. I took French for about, oh, 10 years. Once, I was fluent. Now I wish I could speak Spanish. I REALLY wish it. I wish it at least 3 or 4 times per week.Immigration: subject for another day with more hours in it.

  12. I recommend French because it’s more useful on the worldwide scale (most of Europe and Asia at least has it in the top four or five spoken languages) but I agree that Spanish can be more useful in the US.
    My kids are getting French from me, Spanish at school, Chinese and German from their father, and Japanese from two uncles.
    Now I have to find someone who speaks Italian and Swedish.  And Finnish, as the only thing I can say in Finnish is “Hevon vittu!” which I won’t translate. 

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