“¡Javy, sientate!” Javy sit! I desperately tried to get Javy, the 6 year-old demon-child in the kindergarten class that I volunteer at, to calm down as he crawled across the classroom floor on his stomach as though he was an Army Marine. Ahh crap, uhmm en el imperativo negativo you’re supposed to add an -es for the tu form si es un verbo que termina con -ar… So don’t throw that would be… “Javy, no lo tires!!” My mental processing in Spanglish of how to say a phrase as simple as “don’t throw that” was just a split second too slow as the necessary words were uttered as Javy started to hurl the pencil case. Watching the pencil case being released from Javy’s hand towards one of the other students in the class was reminiscent of one of those slow motion, uber dramatic movie scenes (luckily Javy missed his target because soccer is the main sport in Spain, thus all the kids have pretty lousy aim when throwing stuff).
Ughh, I groaned to myself, why did Spaniards have to create a whole effin separate tense for negative commands… While I was taking a moment to wallow in my own self-inadequacies I failed to notice that Sara, one of the other students in my class, was starting to take her shirt off whilst dancing on top of a desk. “Madre mia!! Sara bajate!” I looked across the room to the two other volunteers in the class, and their eyes were full of despair. Haha oh man… Okay enough is enough. I reached down, picked Javy up, sat him in his chair, carried him and the desk to the corner of the room, and said “Todos basta ya? Javy sientate en el rincón por 5 minutos!” Everyone enough, okay? Javy, sit in the corner for 5 minutes!…
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the kids that I volunteer with and it has been an amazing experience as I have been able to further practice my Spanish while learning more about Spanish culture. But based on my observations, the most well-behaved of these Spanish kids are definitely a lot rowdier and unruly than the worst American kids I’ve taught or babysat. I can’t say definitively what the cause of this is, but I have a hypothesis: after years of suppression and censorship under the Franco dictatorship, Spaniards in contemporary society have over-embraced their newfound liberties and contorted this freedom into pseudo-anarchism. I’m probably over-exaggerating things to a certain extent, but seeing this sense of self-liberation in Spaniards, particularly those of younger generations, has been quite fascinating to me as I learn about Spain’s history and try piecing together what I’ve learned in the classroom and what I’ve witnessed firsthand.
Anyways, the moral of this story is if for some reason you plan on baby-sitting Spanish kids anytime in the near future… beware.