The other night, my Girlie asked me to help her get ready for her Spanish quiz.
“No, Mom! I’m not supposed to be able to speak it. I have to learn to write the words and spell them properly.”
“Spanish is a phonetic language. If you can first pronounce the words, it’ll make it easier to spell them.”
“But you’re doing it wrong,” she protested. I chose to dismiss the irony that she complained about not being able to learn based on the way her teacher taught it, but then got upset that I wasn’t teaching it the same way.
“I need you to trust me, okay?”
Before I could complete another sentence, “yes, but you don’t understand . . .”
“I’m asking you to trust me,” I repeated with enough gusto that she knew to stop and hear me out. “I need you to believe that I know you well enough to understand how you learn. I also need you to remember that I’m bilingual and I need you to trust that I tutor other kids, including in Spanish. This might not feel like you’re learning what you need to at first, but I need you to trust that you are. Can you do that for me?”
“Okay,” she quietly responded.
For thirty minutes, I asked her questions or had her repeat sentences while I pulled weeds. Most of the time she obliged me, although a few times she stopped me to remind me that she needed to memorize the sentences and know how to spell everything. Regardless of her comments, we kept trekking along.
“Mom, can you just quiz me and see if I can write it?” she asked.
“Okay. How about you go inside and write it out.”
A few minutes later, she handed me the paragraph. In Spanish. With 1 letter off on a word and another missing an accent. Coming from the girl who normally makes spelling mistakes in English all the time.
I wanted to say, “See. I told you so,” but before such wisdom could pour out of my mouth, a question penetrated to the marrow.
“Will you trust me?”
“Stacy, do you believe I know you well enough to understand how you learn? Do you believe I’m capable of teaching you? Will you let me teach you in the way I know is best for you?”
As I recounted this to a friend, I cried out, “and here I was thinking we were just learning about verbs.”
“You were,” she replied. “The verb is trust.”