In Costa Rica, I was always known as gringa or macha (Costa Rican speak for blonde), and my very American-sounding name was mangled every which way when I was growing up. Then I moved to the U.S., and my name was suddenly easily pronounceable, and blending in was much, much easier. I loved it. I don’t like drawing attention to myself — I can be shy, I’m not a natural-born storyteller at all, and although as an interpreter I often have to stand up and speak in front of large groups of people, I’m speaking someone else’s words for them and that somehow quiets my nerves considerably.
Early on, in fact, one of the most difficult things for me about raising my sons bilingually was that I was constantly calling attention to myself. Whether I was chatting with my boys at our table at a restaurant or yelling for them across the park, I was out there every day speaking to them in Spanish, and that sometimes made people stop and stare. It made me hugely self-conscious at first — it was less a matter of caring what people thought and more a matter of simply being uncomfortable with the attention. So I put my blinders on and ignored it all.
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Kimberly Stevens Lane was born to a Costa Rican mother and an American father and was raised in both countries. She is the mother of four-year-old twin boys, both of whom have special needs and are in full-time special education programs. She has a Master of Arts degree in Conference Interpretation and is a freelance translator and interpreter in the Washington, D.C. area