Credit: Kidsday staff artist / Lingfei Zhao, Syosset

Have you ever heard a stranger speak a different language and ever wonder what they said? Imagine us having to go through this every day. We have a Spanish-speaking father and grandparents, not to mention aunts, uncles and cousins who speak Spanish. We don’t understand what they’re saying!

Today our parents say that they should have taught us the language when we were young; however, since we are triplets (we have a sister), we’re sure it was hard enough trying to teach us all English. Throwing another language in there probably would have been a disaster!

One downside is whenever any of us does something wrong and they start belting out Spanish, we just assume what the conversation is about. Another negative is that whenever they speak in Spanish, they speak fast and loud. To us, this is not an exaggeration, because whenever my grandma visits us and is on the phone with one of her friends, her voice seems like she is practically shouting. Also, just listening to her speak, it amazes us at how fast she speaks Spanish compared to when she speaks English. While we don’t try to really learn from either my dad or grandma, when my grandma speaks in Spanish, we always mimic her and repeat what she says in Spanish. She yells, “Don’t say that” or “Never repeat what I say when I’m talking on the phone,” since she tells us that she just cursed and doesn’t want to us to repeat it.

There are many upsides. On one hand you have your own translator whenever you go on a vacation to a Spanish-speaking area. The past two vacations we went to Puerto Rico and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Without our dad, there was no way we could have done anything. Another positive is that we always have someone there to help us with our Spanish homework. This has backfired because when our dad uses words that we have not learned yet, our teacher finds out we didn’t really do it.

Another thing we still do today is that we eat Hispanic foods, such as plantains, rice and beans, and chicken and rice. Our mom cooks all these Hispanic dishes, pernil (pork shoulder) and flan for dessert.

Now that all three of us are in high school and we have to take a language, we are all taking Spanish, so maybe one day we can join in the conversation. However, whenever we try to speak Spanish, our dad cringes and says, “You’re butchering the language,” so we really don’t think that day will be soon.