A few months ago I wrote about my plan to speak to D in Spanish for a couple hours every morning. I think that lasted about, um, a week. Too often I'd wake up too dazed to even think, let alone in a different language, and so other than occasionally reading one of his Spanish kids books to him, the Spanish got put aside.
Then I picked up a book from the library called Bringing Up Baby Bilingual, and upon reading the first few pages I already felt my resolve for a bilingual household coming back. The book is written by a woman who is American, but learned French while in college and then living in Paris for a year or 2. Years later she had twin babies, and when they were 10 months old she one day decided to switch over and speak exclusively to them in French. By the time she wrote the book the kids were 6 years old and completely fluent in both French and English.
Her point is that you don't have to be a native speaker to enrich your kids with multiple languages, that anyone can do this. While I don't completely agree with her (she makes it sound like anyone who's even taken an Intro to Spanish class can raise their kids full-immersion in a new language armed with a dictionary and conjugation guide, but then again she also made a comment about hoe breastfeeding is such an easy thing to do b/c it requires no effort on the mom's side... um WRONG). BUT! I am inspired by her efforts, and agree with her that it only makes sense that if you have proficiency in a language you should share that with your children during that time when it will be so easy and natural for them to pick it up themselves.
I still hesitate to go all-out with Spanish, for a couple reasons. One, while my Spanish is pretty good there's still a level of discomfort and unfamiliarity that has grown out of a language lying dormant for so long, and I don't want that distance when speaking and interacting with my own son. Also, I've spent a lot of time carefully choosing (English) books, stories, poems, etc for D, and I hate to not get to share those with him myself.
At the same time, I know that having a structure to it is important, and that the best/easiest way to do so is to have one parent speak exclusively in that language. So what I'm starting to do is to bring back "Spanish mornings," starting when he wakes up and through his first nap time, and maybe even through lunch. When my dad was here a week or 2 ago we spoke Spanish a lot and already I've noticed a difference in the ease with which the language flows. I've also pulled out the small English/Spanish dictionary we have and using it to look up words I can't remember. I'd like to also find a verb conjugation book, too, for when I can't quite remember a tricky tense of those irregular verbs. My hope is that as I speak more, both D and I will get better with Spanish and as I get more comfortable it'll be easier to let it take over more and more of our days. It will also help to have family using Spanish with him, too, and we live in a great area for reinforcing Spanish-- for example, at Gymboree there's 3 other moms who come to the same classes who speak Spanish with their kids. So, I've got good tools and opportunities available to us.
Interestingly, while reading the book and noting the French words thrown in here and there in examples of the author talking with her kids, it struck me how much I do miss French, and how I would love to pass that language on to D as well. We have several French kids books that my mom and dad have given D, so I might just sit down with him a few times a week and read those in hopes of helping me retain some of my French, and exposing him to some, too, in hopes of his little brain having some sort of a framework to build onto if he chooses to learn French when he's older.
I would love for D to be fluent in Spanish. I don't know how realistic that is. I know that even with a half-day of Spanish every day, it is very likely he'll just speak English with me, and that if we don't keep it up into adulthood and beyond he will forget. But, I figure any exposure I give him now can't hurt and will most likely help. At the very least, I hope to give him keys to multilingualism, anything to make it easier later on.