A to Z Challenge: D is for Dificil


My Spanish proficiency depends on my usage, directly.

For Day 4 of the A to Z Challenge, D is for Dificil. As in, the Spanish word for difficult. It’s difficult to raise children in a multicultural home when the most ethnic thing about me is that I know all the words to La Bamba.

And that I can eat refried beans without your run-of-the-mill Caucasian repercussions.

I placed out of foreign language requirements in college, but I’m lousy at being Latino.

I don’t use my Spanish enough. I wish I did, so that my kids could learn too. My oldest now probably knows more than me because she has good grades in her Spanish class. Me? I mispronounced deportes in a work meeting this week – the Spanish word for sports.


camhatIn a perfect world, I’d have an accent, not just pigment.

I’d know how to speak the language, not just eat the food.

Know how bad it is? Besides the fact that I don’t fit in my Mexico football shirt anymore …

The last Spanish dish I made – came from a white lady’s website.

Sometimes … I buy tortillas. At Aldi.

I can’t even tell the nice Latina Jehovah’s Witnesses who knock on the door that they shouldn’t waste a Watchtower Pamphlet in Spanish on me.

No comprendo.

I grew up in a white neighborhood and live in a black neighborhood.

I can order tres enchiladas de queso, con frejoles y tres tortillas de harina, but if the server asks a question that deviates from the script?

Um … hablo un poquito Epsanol. Lo siento. (I hold up my finger and thumb an inch apart).

But if someone who sings like Adam Levine can star on a show called The Voice, couldn’t a dad like me fake it to raise his kids with some Latin culture?

017-1I’m a soccer coach – who’s never played soccer.

I was a sports writer – who never went to j-school.

I’m a mom blogger – who’s a dad.

Wait, what?

My sister and I carry on the tradition of making Christmas tamales.

I’m short – like a Latino race jockey (only I weigh as much as two of them). My kids might have Anglo first names, but Chicano last names.

I even negotiated my release from detention in a Mexican immigration office. Kind of.

Hell, even Ted Cruz followed me on Twitter. (What? He counts.)

I’ve got this. I’ve got work to do, too. Elise says she’s Hispanic. Grace, half Hispanic, half white. Marie claims 100% Caucasian. How’s that even possible?

photo credit: Mariachi via photopin (license)
photo credit: Mariachi via photopin (license)

It’s going to take more than pinatas and pinto beans.

More than tostadas and tacos.

Yo no soy marinero, after all.

Soy capitan.*

(*-I’m not a sailor – I’m the captain!)

**-A post on Sand in My Toes blog inspired this.



  1. Rhonda Albom says:

    I disagree, in a perfect world, it wouldn’t matter – pigment, accent, none of it. We did a long term home exchange in Spain in 2012, and I had my share of discovering I don’t speak Spanish anywhere near as well as I thought I did.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      That’s true Rhonda – but if I’m gonna be brown, I ought to do it up right. I struggled hard in Spanish II when I moved to North Carolina and had a Cuban teacher.

      That wasn’t the Spanish I was used to butchering up.

  2. WordWabbit says:


    ¡Tú lo puedes!

    Qué tenga un buen día. 🙂


    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Muchos gracias, conejo de palabras!

  3. laurie27wsmith says:

    The expectations must be hard Mate. People see you and probably think Desi Arnez and it turns out you’re more a son of the Carolinas. I feel for you.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s like I have some splaining to do, mate. It’s false advertising, that’s what I’m doing.

      In Cancun, white women from all over the world would pass me at the resort and say “hola,” expecting maybe an “hola” back.

      And they got a “hey!” that was more Gomer Pyle than Enrique Iglesias.

      1. laurie27wsmith says:

        Mate that’s so funny, it’s like hearing a Scotsman of African descent speak.

  4. Lyn says:

    LOL this post is going to be a great one to retire for the night on. Lot’s of laughs, so I should have pleasant dreams. Or nightmares about being chased by tacos 😀

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Lyn.

      If I get chased by tacos in a dream, I’ll consider it sweet – I’ll just surrender and deal with the delicious consequences!

  5. Donna Smith says:

    Thanks for a lighthearted start to the day…you have still retained much of what you know compared to someone like me who never took any Spanish at all. So it’s not all that bad, right?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I knew enough to ask which saint to pray for to have safe delivery in a speeding taxi, although I didn’t say it out loud.

      Glad to have you here Donna – i bookmarked your blog and look forward to reading you!

  6. Thank you for making me smile and even though I mostly Italian and even learned the language for over three years in high school, I still don’t know my pizza from whatever the word is for butt is in Italian! Se how much I recall and remember here LOL! Hope you are having a great weekend 😉

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I really hope the words for pizza and butt aren’t too similar in Italian, but that might explain some things!

      Despite the pollen, it’s starting out to be a decent weekend here. Hope you have a great one Janine! I need to catch up on your posts.

  7. Kathy G says:

    It could be worse. My SIL, whose parents came from Hungary, says she only knows the Hungarian cuss words!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I happen to believe the foreign words with the most utility are bad words and food.

  8. ksbeth says:

    i know a tiny bit of spanish and french both but could never have a conversation in either. i think, over time, all kids will have a mixed heritage and people won’t classify us into separate groups )

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I once told a Spanish speaking telemarker, in Spanish, “No hablo Espanol o Ingles.” (I don’t speak Spanish or English.)

  9. NotAPunkRocker says:

    That’s funny about how the girls see themselves. My friend’s daughter is in a similar household. She identified as caucasian all through school, until it came time for college applications. Then she was hispanic. I can’t decide if that is smart, sad or both, but in the end it’s her label to choose for whatever reason.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      They’ll all become Hispanic for college applications, too. Every Hispanic kid in a white neighborhood goes through a denial phase so they can be ‘normal’ like their Caucasian classmates.

      It doesn’t last a lifetime.

  10. Kim says:

    2 years of Spanish and I can count and say “Hola!!” I think it’s awesome that you have mixed so many great things – live in one neighborhood or another. Fun that your girls all perceive themselves differently. I bet it makes it fun for the school when they are looking at the data – 3 girls from one family all with different responses on race:)

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I bet you got an A, Kim. Eventually this melting pot of a nation will look like all the Play Doh when all the color’s mixed!

  11. stomperdad says:

    Good one! You had me in stitches. A mom blogger… who’s a dad! I can relate to that 😀

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks brother. I tend to identify more with the mom bloggers than the dads – good to know you know what I mean.

      We’re like that Indian scout on the movies that helps the white man. Or something.

      1. stomperdad says:

        Are we the leaders? Or are we the followers? I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to get lost. I kind of feel more like the little pilot boat that guides the huge cargo ships into port.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        That’s funny – I feel more like the dingy than anything else!

      3. stomperdad says:

        HAHAHA! Or are we Dads with mom tendencies?

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        I think I’m all dad – bumbling and just barely making it – but I definitely identify more with mom writers when it’s time to sit down and write it out.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Muy bien! Este “post” es muy gracioso! Thanks for a good laugh 😀

  13. Epsanol (!) is hard. I took some in school, and I can basically say “tengo mucho trabajo”.

    Don’t sell yourself short though. 1.5 / 3 daughters can feel the latin spirit, that’s something!
    More importantly they are wonderful girls with values that go beyond ethnicity.

    My Mom was born in Israel and is Jewish, and I’m like “what’s that holiday called again, the one that coincides with Christmas, you know with the pretty candle stand?”
    I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I grew up here.

    Happy Easter, E!

    PS: I still think you should have a Latino Elf 😉

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thing is, Spanish is so much easier than English, but once you know English … I think probably when the Dutch do well in the World Cup, my girls will claim their Dutch heritage too.

      I feel like my kids should get pinatas and wooden shoes filled with candy. If you’re multi-cultural, you should get all the treats and candy you’re due.

      A Latino Elf might be more mischief than this house can take! I have three girl Hispanic elves 12 months a year.

  14. tamaralikecamera says:

    You know all the words to La Bamba????

    I feel for my kids at times because they’re Jewish and Mormon, which is weird, and their parents are of such mixed ancestry that we’re about 5-6 generations removed from it.

    So we just pick and choose, I guess!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Yes, and against popular belief in the white community, the first words are NOT “la la la la la bamba!” It’s “para bailar la bamba!”

      Jewish and Mormon makes your kids’ heritage global, at least to Utah and Israel. And the best part of a hodge-podge ancestry is the pick-and-choose.

  15. firebailey says:

    This is hysterical, especially the part of how the girls distinguish their race.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Right? It’s like the United Nations, under one roof.

  16. Sandy Ramsey says:

    You always make me laugh, Eli. Well, a few times you haven’t but only because it would have been inappropriate. I do love this though. My burning question is about the Caucasion repercussions of eating refried beans….really? That seems a little unfair.
    I really don’t care about pigment or accent. I think you’re a phenomenal dude….for a mom blogger .

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s a gift I won’t take lightly, Sandy. Inappropriate laughter is sometimes the funniest, though.

      It does seem unfair, but white folk seem to be less equipped to handle beans than we are. We don’t get gassy, my people. Maybe it’s evolution?

      And that last sentence … you really nailed it. From one mom blogger to another, thank you.

  17. I identify with this. Although I do speak Spanish. But I can’t count how many times someone has said to me “You speak English really well” lol My kids barely speak or understand spanish. I grew up walking the line of my ethnicities. It’s not an easy line to walk. And sometimes you get called a coconut!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Hey Veronica. Have you ever seen my post about what I learned waiting tables in a Mexican restaurant?


      You and I could write volumes about the struggle, couldn’t we? There are benefits, for sure. But it is a struggle.

      Great to see you here.

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