Last Sunday we had a carne azada birthday party for my son, who just turned 11. You know what this means. Get together, eat, talk, laugh, and then we eat some more! (Por eso estamos, como estamos).
My Tia bought Jeremiah a piñata. See, no matter what age the birthday celebrant is, we always have a piñata. In my family, we let the little ones go first. Some of the boys think they’re too old for a turn to whack the heck out of SpongeBob, so Jeremiah was the last to go at it. As my cousin was spinning Jeremiah around, my brother started to sing the “Piñata” song. You know, “Dale, Dale, Dale…”
We always sing this. ALL OF US! Well, all of my generation, at least. But, we always get to the part of “No pierdas el….” and we lose it from there. I don’t know why my brother, sister, cousins or I don’t know the full song. Lord knows, we’ve been to countless birthday parties, but it’s only the old folks who sing it all the way through.
As my brother started the song, a cousin interrupted him, saying she needed to learn the song by tomorrow for her daughter’s first birthday and baptism. My brother told her he didn’t know the whole song either. He told her to go on the Internet and “google” it.
How sad is this? Such a traditional, almost national song, and we have to “google” it to get the lyrics. This got me thinking: “What has happened to my Hispanic family?”
When I was growing up, Spanish was spoken in my home. My parents spoke Spanish. I speak Spanish, as do my brother, sister, aunts and uncles. We all have kids ranging from the ages of 1 to 20, and I can honestly say, I think my niece — who is studying in Penn State, woot, woot — is the only kid who speaks Spanish fluently. My kids don’t. My nephews don’t.
I am ashamed. My cousins and I are the last in our generation who can carry a conversation in Spanish. I tried to teach my kids, but it’s hard when it’s not the primary language at home. My hubby has not taught them Tagalog, his Filipino language. (Shame on him, too.)
I love speaking Spanish. At church, when I was younger, I attended the Spanish service. At work, I kinda lost my Spanish because I mostly spoke English. It’s funny how something you have known all your life, can be hard to hold on too, if you don’t use it very often. But, when I get the chance to speak Spanish, I do. Though medio “pocha.” Ha, ha.
I know it’s never too late to start teaching the kids some Spanish. Other than the Taco Bell menu, or simple things like fruta, uvas, or chones! We’re getting there…
So in the spirit of Hispanic Heritage Month, I would like to tell you what I thought were the lyrics of the “piñata” song…before I googled them. No making fun, OK?!
“Dale, dale, dale, no pierdas el pino, porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el pepino…”
I swear I thought that’s what it said.
Liz Cerezo is a stay-at-home mom who publishes Thoughts of a Mommy, about the crazy, wonderful world of parenting. She and her husband, who live in Southern California, have three wonderful MexiPinitos — Mexican and Filipino — kids.
** This is a new version of a post that originally appeared on Thoughts of a Mommy.