After 100 years of silence, I am back to the blog. Well, at least I hope I’m back. I’m always awesome at great intentions.
But as my teammate Alicia pointed out on her post yesterday, getting “settled” here in Arequipa has been quite the ordeal. First of all, we have to do everything in spanish (which we’re still learning), and the way everything is done here is different from Colombia and VERY different from the States. We’ve had to relearn the process for everything from contracts to bill-paying to house-hunting, etc. Second, we didn’t have any contacts here. The guys literally knew 1 person when we landed here, and that was a taxi driver named Jesús. In Colombia we had some help and some resources to get started, here we had none. And third, WE KEEP GETTING SICK. The process of letting your body adjust to a new culture, new foods, new germs, and new viruses is A BEAST. At any given time, there is at least one person on our team sick, usually more. Parasites are no joke, people.
So we’ve been busy, and sick, and exhausted, but we are finally getting to a place where things are leveling out a little. And since I now have a bit of time and mental energy, I thought I’d catch up with what’s been going on lately here in Arequipa.
First of all, MY KIDS ARE GROWN. How did that happen? If I feel like the mission field has aged me, it has DEFINITELY aged my kids. They’re practically adults. (Except for the fact that they still can’t figure out bathroom etiquette, but that’s beside the point). They are talking up a storm in two languages, can argue and debate with the best of them, and suddenly seem to be able to call me out in my parenting inconsistencies. I was already feeling like I was surrounded by teenagers in 3-year-old bodies.
And then they started school.
Nate and I knew when we moved here that we wanted to find a preschool program, particularly for Luís’ continued language and cognitive development. There’s a little “jardin” right down the road, and after visiting and talking with the director, we decided to give it a try. I wasn’t ready to send them for the full 5 days a week, especially since we are still working so much with Luís and his attachment, but the director agreed to let me send them 3 days a week if I would keep up with homework and keep them on track with the class for the other days.
It turns out that preschool in Peru is the real deal. Maybe it was the fact that my children suddenly seemed so grown up, or maybe it was because I had a school supply list that could fill a dorm room and looking through their curriculum gave me the urge to help them pick a major, but it felt more like I was sending my kids to college on that first day.
Since then, I have tried my best to figure out this new world of preschool, but it continues to throw me for a loop every single day. I have covered their books in wrapping paper and vinyl, as directed. (That’s harder than it sounds…my version looks pretty ghetto.) I literally took a school supply list of words I didn’t recognize to a shop, handed it to the sweet little shopkeeper, and said in spanish, “My children just started preschool. Please help me.” Maybe the desperate first-time Preschool Mom look is the same in any country, because she just laughed and said, “Don’t worry, Mamita,” and gently talked me through all the random little things on the list. But I can now discuss things like glitter, tempura paints, yarn, and using gelatin to fingerpaint without a problem, so I guess that’s progress!
But every day, it’s something new. Whether it’s a new list of things that they’ll need in class, or homework instructions that seem bizarre, or an explanation of how to pay for this or that, I’m always having to figure out how a new part of the process works. Thankfully the director is very patient, she understands that preschool brings along with it a whole new category of vocabulary I haven’t learned yet, and she is willing to teach me every step of the way.
And as confused as I can be at times, the boys are learning like crazy. Barrett came home the first week and explained to me in detail how precipitation works. I was understandably surprised that he knew what any of that was, and asked him if he had learned it at school. He said, “Yes, my teacher taught me about that. Except she said it all in spanish, and I’m telling you in english.” A preschool brain’s ability to language-hop is amazing, to say the least.
And speaking of language, it has been INCREDIBLE to see the difference it has made in Luís’ language development! We were told by the language/cognitive specialist in Bogotá that a spanish immersion environment would boost his abilities across the board, but we had no idea how quick and drastic it would be. Within the first 2 weeks, Luís was using more english at home than ever before. Now that he has an established environment for each language, his little brain is working hard to figure out the differences and he is making significant progress. I could never have imagined how much spanish preschool would help his ability to communicate in english at home.
All that to say, preschool has been an adventure for the whole family. I am still shocked at how “academic” it is at times, and that I am doing homework every day with 3 year olds, but they are loving it for the most part.
Plus, it has given me 3 mornings a week to do things like get a spanish language partner, clean my house, and keep up with all the things on my admin list….like blogging.
So hopefully, I’m back. And as long as being a first-time Preschool Mom in another language doesn’t COMPLETELY fry my brain, I’ll be a regular around here again (: