Tag Archives: Spanish

Purim 5771: notes of a tired woman late on a Saturday night. Preschool, Purim and Mother tongue.

We have had two lovely days here.  My daughter had no school yesterday and I planned with my close friend, A.– to take her son and my daughter to visit for the morning at the very special preschool where her son and my daughter went to preschool and where the two of them (her son and my daughter) and the two of us, the women, met and became friends.

It proved to be a wonderful thing to do and it was one of those perfectly good, good days in a life.  The weather was beautiful, my daughter both happy and cooperative, but also just a little clingy with me– just as she often was, many years ago, when she was enrolled in this preschool.  I enjoyed the visit, and truth to tell, I enjoyed every cling.  Lately I am acutely aware that this time of her childhood with me in the center of her world, is fleeting.  I savor each of these days when I get to do something funny or sweet, all day long, with my daughter.

If you don’t know the Jewish holiday of Purim, I apologize for not creating many hyperlinks here to help you out, and the one I’ve given you really isn’t the best–but suffice it to say that Purim is a raucous holiday involving costumes, in many settings– a lot of alcohol (in many settings, not in my world), and general partying.  As Jews, we celebrate our victory in a close call– near-annihilation of the Jews in Persia a long time ago, that ended well.

My family went to the Megillah reading (the reading of the story of Purim) at my synagogue for Purim tonight.  No one especially felt like going, but I wanted not to miss this Jewish holiday that is so centered on young people and silliness and play.  We convinced (with no difficulty at all) my friend A., and her husband and son (with whom we’d spent Friday and some of Saturday) to come too, so we went as a pack which I always like. Somehow my Rabbi, Cantor and several others, created a Purim story that utilized– well– an amalgam of Purim, the plot and songs of West Side Story, as well as current politics.  Queen Esther was Esther Pelosi, Vashti was Vashti Palin (complete with a hilarious rendition of “I Feel Pretty”), Haman was Haman John Boehner; the music was both rag-tag and wonderful and everyone from age 3 to 75 laughed a lot.  I know my Rabbi isn’t afraid to take a stand, but he is also thoughtful and doesn’t insult people.  I guess he was pretty confident that there are no tea-partiers or even Republicans in the congregation.  You probably had to be there, but it was hilarious.

But the best was this.  On the way home from synagogue, my daughter asked to listen to our soundtrack of In the Heights– about which you have heard much if you are a regular reader of this blog. We were listening to the song, Carnaval Del Barrio, which is noisy and funny and energetic and sung mostly in Spanish.  She and I were both singing along with a fairly adept command of both the melody and the words– in both English and Spanish–but there were many Spanish words she was singing that I didn’t know.  So I asked her what one meant, and she translated easily for me.  And another– and she translated easily.  And a third word, and this time she translated– but it was one of those words for which there is actually no literal equivalent in English.  She explained easily, and with a great command of poetry, nuance.  I was beaming inside and my partner gave me a glance– enough to convey that she noticed too, but brief enough to not interrupt the moment.  We’ve won.  She has Spanish, her first mother tongue.  Her first mother’s tongue.  In a flash we know she will likely have the easy access of language that she needs to have easy access to her people which is exactly what we have hoped for.  As we parked behind our building, my daughter asked us to bring the CD into the house, so she could fall asleep to it and she did, singing along more and more softly as her eyelids closed with her proud and tired mother looking at her good face watching her fall into sleep.