The girls started their first day of school today at Colegio Penalta. Morning drop-off did not go well. It was a minor disaster. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; however this picture is not one of those. Here is a list of all that happened before we even left the dormitory (where we are currently staying) to walk to school. 1. Violet’s new glasses broke. And not by anything she or her sisters did. They just broke. I’ll have to try super glue. I sent her in her old glasses. 2. Clara had a “juicy” burp into her hands in the dormitory hallway. 3. The cafeteria where I planned to buy them breakfast pastries was closed. So, I stood Clara in a corner near a garbage can, had the other two sit nearby and went back up to our room to get a towel for Clara and the fruit from last night’s dinner for breakfast. Here was a my first dilemma: Do I take all the kids to school and make Clara walk them to school while possibly getting sick? Do I keep them all at home because I can’t have Clara walk with them? I decide maybe it really was just a nervous stomach or juicy burp. I *hope* this is the case. I felt like I needed the other two to at least attend today. I mean, I showed up at school yesterday speaking no Spanish to sign up three kids who also spoke no Spanish and wanted them to start the next day. Filing out the paperwork was a challenge in itself. The director spoke *some* English and would try to tell me what each line was asking. When I couldn’t understand I would just write down what I thought it might reasonably be asking. So I’d write their birthday, the gentleman would shake his head, cross it out and we’d try again. All the while, Amelia sat arms folded and scowling about going to school, Violet was touching everything in the office and Clara was crawling on the floor. I have no address yet. And I have no phone yet. The guy must have thought I was nuts. He asked if we had a family book. I had no idea what he was describing. I pulled out passport size photos of each kid but he shook his head and said “oh well.” Hhmm.
Anyway, I digress. We head off for school with the kids having a banana and apple for breakfast. They are going to hungry! We make it. I snap this picture. And then like that the picture changes. I walk everyone into the school yard. Kids are mingling, parents are mingling from a distance. I try to tell Amelia where she has to go; except I was telling her wrong and from our brief tour yesterday she knew which building she was in and I was confusing Amelia & Violet’s buildings. I pull out the paperwork I need to turn in and the Spanish sentence I’ve written down asking if we could borrow books vs. buy them. (We are suppose to buy the kids textbooks but converted to dollars it’s like $600!! Even Clara has $150 worth of books! The gentleman/director?? yesterday told me the school could help with the cost but I had said I didn’t think it was needed…as I wrongly assumed each kid would be $30-$50!). At that moment, Clara started vomiting in the school yard. I scooped her up and stuck her next to a bush to continue throwing up in. I pull out the towel I brought from the dorm and wrap it around her. Now, I have Clara wrapped in blanket standing next to a bush with the other two pleading with me to walk them to their class. Which are in two completely opposite directions and NOT what is typical of parents to do. Violet’s building is all the way across the school yard as well. At this point, we are drawing lots of attention. The parents are staring at us, the other kids are circling around saying the only English word they know “Hello!” Violet is trying her best to crawl back into my body or at least up into my shirt. I introduce her in Spanish to some girls. I try to ask which building they are going into but they only laugh at me. Neither of us can understand. The 9 year old boy we have met and played with the last two days shows up and smiles and welcomes Amelia. I gently nudge her over into her school line with JoeAngel (seriously, I can’t pronounce his name but I know this is what it translates into English). She is then surrounded by a bunch of kids who are very interested in the new student, the new American non-Spanish speaking student. At this point turn my attention to Violet; completely forgetting to wish Amelia good luck or give her a hug. Now I try to coerce Violet into walking across the school yard herself and standing in line for her building. We have attracted too much attention for me to just leave Clara wrapped in a towel by a bush. I pick up Clara like a baby (I figure it’s the best possible position should she vomit). This just looks even more strange and attracts further attention. Plus, all the other adults are standing on the other side of the fence and I am smack dab in the middle of the school yard. I walk Violet over. The kids continue to say “Hello!” and just stare at her. One girl does say “Hello, Violet!”. As soon as we see her teacher come out to collect the kids, I kiss her and shove her to the front of the line and leave. All the while hoping Clara doesn’t throw up again. I run into the English speaking director/secretary/admin (seriously, I think I threw everyone for a loop that no one actually introduced themselves) and he tells me I have Clara in the wrong spot. Ah, yes! Got that. I say she is not feeling well and I am taking her home. He assumes she is afraid (which in reality she is the child most excited and keeps telling me she’s feeling fine and wants to go to school). I tell him she is throwing up and we are heading home. I’m not sure he understood the term “throwing up” but we leave nonetheless.
Clara and I walked back to the dorms. I have no way to contact Jeff and I have to go back to pick up the other two at 1pm for siesta/lunch and then take them back at 3pm (It would cost $362 US for them to stay at school the two hour break and be fed lunch and supervised).
As we walked away from school, I realized I had basically given my kids no breakfast and hastily left them at school where they know no one, don’t speak the language and the school has no contact information for me. Now, that first school picture is way LESS than a thousand words!