This morning, waiting for her school bus, I overheard Katherine say, “Come on bus, I want to go to school.”
Stunned at what I was hearing, I stopped my reading of the news and looked at her. She must have felt it as she turned to me and said, “Can’t believe I just said that.” Me neither. Our daughter who last year, on more than one occasion, refused to go to school is actually looking forward to it.
Miracles still happen, folks. Amazing. Big smiles all around in the Thornton-Vander Plaats household.
Entering seventh grade, Katherine gives two thumbs up to school. She’s got all the bases covered. If she finds good friends, great. If not, she likes being alone and all will be well. After all, she says, she has her online Minecraft community. I tell her that online communities aren’t really real. Her comment, “They’re nicer than reality, mom.”
Last year was pretty rough. She cried, I cried, David didn’t know what to do.
I had no idea how much one can hurt for someone else until Katherine entered my life. My she-bear comes out often. I’m learning the painful fact that she has to learn how to deal with her own battles. I can support, cheer her on, offer suggestions and pray til my knees are raw, but my daughter has to walk into her spanish-speaking classroom and deal with the unknown for six hours a day. Or endure racist comments and reactions. Or feel like the gringa even though her skin matches that of the children she plays with.
She’s been a trouper this summer– taking 10 hours of spanish a week and making great progress. Her spanish teach has taught Katherine to cook empanadas and a national Ecuadorian dish with hominy that I can’t spell. Blanca has helped Katherine learn to sew, taken her to the park, kept her busy and helped her develop confidence in her speaking ability. Now, so sure of her capabilities, Katherine has taken it upon herself to judge the accuracy of my spanish. Alas, this has caused more than minor irritation–but her intentions are good!
It seems I am now the cause of great embarrassment to her. How I interact with people on the street. How I pronounce (or mispronounce) words. When I ask the taxi driver or person in restaurant how to pronounce something (OH, MOM, I’m so embarrassed!).
So we are settling in to a new routine. Daughter takes the bus at 7 am. I move to the computer to write. David walks out the door to conquer more streets of Cuenca.
Now on our seventh month here, he has already surveyed about 1/4 of the city’s calles!
I’ve decided to seriously rethink about my activities and limit the time I spend outside the house. Writing is what I want to do and feel compelled to do…so my intentions are to carve out the space to do just that.
Life in Cuenca enables expats to be as busy as they choose. If you have an interest, there’s probably a group to do it. From poker to pets, investments to crafts, biking, hiking, cooking, reading, coloring, wining and dining, tennis, writing, spirituality, performing, volunteering. Like something? You’ll find others with similar interests. It’s very easy to get too busy.
I have grown to love this city. I doubt we will ever return to the USA to live permanently. I continue to struggle with walking on crooked, uneven sidewalks. I am looking for a good walking stick. But that is a small price to pay for the lovely vistas, the kind people, the cool air and brilliant blue sky. And now that Katherine is warming up to the place, this will no doubt be the place we continue to call home.
In less than one week we are to be graced with dear friends from the States. This will be our first opportunity to show off our new home and we are excited. I’m discovering all the dust our housekeeper has missed and windows that need washing. Katherine anticipates the arrival of Leon and Lou because they are bringing three bags of candy from the Dollar Store. David just keeps walking!
Life is good friends. We continue to follow the news closely in the US and it grieves us to read so much negativity. The land of plenty looks less and less plentiful from abroad. Except it is home to so many wonderful friends and family. You we miss and long to see again.
I feel I’m rambling. Let’s call this a letter rather than a blog, shall we? Love to all.