So I was going to name this blog post something about heartwarming memories. I then realized that one of these disqualifies that description pretty much immediately. I’ll use that one to kick this off!
Most everyone knows Justin Larry by now, also known as Little Larry. This kid makes me laugh almost every single time I see him. He is in La La land 100% of the time. He is always running into doors, tables, walls, and pretty much anything else that you could run into. And whenever it happens, he always just looks stunned as if that wall just popped up out of nowhere. I will say that Justin Larry is pretty good about not crying every time these things happen, but that’s probably a testament of how used to it he is. Anyways, a couple of weeks ago, Andrew and I were sitting in Gringo church on a Sunday morning. Justin Larry’s mom, Karla, was sitting near us with her two older children while he was outside wondering around. He walks up to the big glass window and puts his two tiny hands on the window. He was staring in at us when all of a sudden, he just starts licking the window. I’m talking like a good six inch swipe of the tongue up and down the window. Andrew and I nearly died laughing. Now do you see why I can’t call this blog heartwarming?
Since we are in the midst of rainy season here in Costa Rica, we are often moving inside the church for indoor games in the afternoons when the rain comes. It tends to be kind of chaotic, but luckily we now have the air-nasium out back and the teenagers like to go play out there. One afternoon, I was inside playing board games with the younger kids. I found myself sitting underneath a table with Maikel and Valerie, two 4 year olds. We weren’t so much playing a game as inventing a new one that made no sense, but such is life with 4 year olds. The idea of the game was to find matches with the Memory cards and place them on the Candyland board in no particular order. You flip the cards as fast as possible and as many times as you want since there are no turns. Once we had most of the matches on the board, Maikel takes the board and walks away with it. He returned a few minutes later, sets the board down, and walks off again. At this point, Valerie and I were working on putting more matches on her board to some other random game. When Maikel returned and opened his board back up, the contents had clearly shifted. He was shocked and immediately looked to us as if we’d done something. However, Valerie and I didn’t touch it. He asked “quien fue?” (who was it?). Valerie turned on me so fast, which was remarkable seeing as though she was with me the entire time. “Fue Ashley!” These two little 4 year olds were ganging up on me! I tried to explain that it wasn’t me and I didn’t touch it. I also tried to explain that all the cards moved when he moved the board, but they weren’t having it. As if to end the argument and be done with it, Maikel slowly said “fue usted” (it was you) with an emphasis on the usted, slight head tilt and dead serious facial expression. It was moderately terrifying. Nothing more was said.
I’ve been having a lot of internet issues in my classroom recently. Everyday, I use my laptop to get on youtube and access songs in order to do the preschool program. Often times, I will joke with the little kids when the song freezes that Cosmo the dog or Pin Pon doesn’t want to sing today. One day, we were singing El Sapo and it froze in the middle. I asked “que pasó?” and usually they will always yell “se pegó!” (it’s stuck, or frozen), but on this day, Valerie responded “se murió!” That means he died. She definitely caught me off guard a little bit.
Last Friday, we held our midyear education rewards parties for all the kids in our program here. Sometimes I am so busy coordinating events like this and making sure everything runs smoothly that I don’t always get a lot of time to participate and truly just enjoy the kids. We had a team here last week that was helping with the parties so I made sure that I took this opportunity to spend time with the children. We rented not one, but two bounce houses for the parties. This was a special treat as we normally only do this at Christmastime. Most of my little kids from the preschool program were invited to the morning party. After a few minutes, I decided I was going into the bounce house with them. I yelled “ya vengo!” (I’m coming) and I jumped on in. They were so excited that I got in there with them that they were chanting my name and squealing with delight. They were just being kids in their most natural form. They could never know how wonderful that makes me feel to share those kinds of moments with them.
One of the little girls in the bounce house was Rebecca. She has been in the preschool program since I started helping Laura with it when I got here last year. I don’t know that I have ever seen her smile. There is no exaggeration in that statement. She is the most serious and sad child I have ever met. Her mother has a lot of psychological problems and perhaps the instability has trickled down and affected her in ways that we’ll never know. But last Friday, I saw her smile in the bounce house. It was one of those things that was so natural and without thought. Albeit brief, it did in fact take place and I was lucky enough to witness it.
Yesterday, I was helping Valeria with an English presentation on superheroes. I like art and can be pretty creative, so I often end up doing all the artistic aspects of these projects. Plus, Valeria hates to draw and color. She had to create a superhero and come up with their super powers and values. Andrew was all over this project. These two were scheming up all kinds of stuff for Valeria’s superhero, the Splash. Being the one to sketch all this out, I finally stopped them and said, “Are you crazy? How am I supposed to draw all of this?” Valeria’s English has gotten so good that it’s scary sometimes. She simply turned to me and said, “Oh Ashley, we know you have your limits,” as if to calmly sooth my worries over this elaborate drawing. This child is growing up way too fast.
I love all of these little moments with the kids that I experience here!