Thursday, 31 May 2012

Full circle

Last week marked the end of term for DD1 hence a parent-teacher "conference" was scheduled. Her teacher was very direct and clearly didn't want to waste any time chatting but all was reported to be well much as had been expected. I still don't feel particularly aware of what goes on at school other than that all parties seem content with the status quo. In spite of the school's gloomy anachronistic ambience, DD1 has in fact been very happy, forming solid friendships and learning to read and write during her time there which is more than enough to satisfy me at this stage. She has also acquired Chilean Spanish in the most natural way possible as well as considerable cultural knowledge, numeracy skills and managed to lug an incredibly heavy rucksack to and from school every day... She may well be trailing behind in English spelling and writing but by way of compensation has learnt joined-up handwriting, loops and all. It's not quite what you'd get in a sub-standard state school in the UK (according to The Economist) but she's still young enough to catch up and the experience of living in South America for two years is probably a fair swap for anything she may have missed out on back in the twenty-first century...
Much the same can be said for DD2. Often she has lamented the fact that she goes to a Spanish-speaking nursery and not an English-speaking one, choosing to remain "as quiet as a mouse" for as long as possible while slowly but surely absorbing everything around her... She has gained an extraordinary level of confidence linguistically and culturally as well as producing enough artistic creations to sink the Titanic. Not to mention her experience of presenting to the class (this week it's seashells)... It's probably been very different to nursery in the UK but at her age being with other children and having fun are all that counts. The fact that she can also recite poems in Spanish, dance the tango and knows all about the glories of Chilean history are of course all a bonus...
As for me, I've learnt Spanish too, albeit not as well nor as naturally but I have had a good go, aided mainly by my very patient and eternally encouraging teacher. Not sure what else I have achieved apart from visiting some beautiful and far-flung places, surviving in an alien culture and always feeling like something wasn't quite right... Now my days as ama de casa are well and truly numbered as we prepare for our impending return to the UK. To use an analogy my children might understand, I feel a little like Jo in the Magic Faraway Tree, who visits the land of Topsy-Turvy and ends up walking upside down on his hands while his friends remain the right way up. After spending a while like this he eventually gets a reprieve and is allowed to return the right way up again, vowing to himself that he has in fact had enough exciting adventures and will not be visiting any more of the fascinating but unpredictable lands at the top of the Faraway Tree, however tempting they may seem...

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