Thursday, October 16, 2014

Breakfast Out With the Moms

A couple days ago I got a text message from one of the moms of Clare's classmates asking if I'd be able to come to a breakfast get-together with some of the other moms from the class. Thankfully it was for this morning and so open, and the meeting place was between the school and the apartment which was even better. The last time I went to one of these get-togethers we met at a restaurant half-an-hour away in morning rush-hour traffic.

All that to say, I took a deep breath and plunged in. I've met some of the moms in brief interchanges, but I haven't gotten to know any of them yet, language being a major barrier. The last breakfast I went to was pleasant, and a number of the women knew English and helped me understand the things I needed to know for school (Evelyn's class), but there were about ten moms there and a lot of Spanish conversation that I had absolutely no way of following. I did a lot of smiling and nodding.

When I arrived today, there were only three other moms (a fourth arrived later), and all three knew English well. One of them is married to a Canadian who teaches at the same university as Kraig, and her English is flawless. The other two apologized for their poor English, and I gave my standard response, which is true: "Your English is a thousand times better than my Spanish." Really. Their "poor" English makes my Spanish sound like chicken squawks. It also helped that one of the moms had her four-year-old son with her. I love how little kids know no barriers; we played a wonderful game of my acting surprised every time he said, "Boo!".

Nothing like a French restaurant for a
Spanish/English get-together
For the first half-hour or so, most of the conversation was in English, which was lovely of the ladies. I knew they were doing it for my sake, and I enjoyed getting to know each of them better. As the time progressed, though, they inevitably fell into more and more Spanish, some of which they translated, but not most of it. I expected this, and didn't feel put out by it. They were including me in the conversation with body language, so it didn't matter too much that I could only catch words here and there. It is a good way to learn. I loved watching their expressions, both physical and verbal enunciations, and trying to tie words I could catch to make some sense of it. It reminded me of a montage from the film The 13th Warrior where the main character, a poet from Baghdad, is sent as an ambassador to the   Vikings and sits at their campfire night after night. The montage shows the Vikings speaking their language, and over the space of time the poet starts hearing the words in his own language, and the audience begins to understand as well. I feel that way a lot when I sit in on these get-togethers.

But it's exhausting and the brain can handle only so much before it shuts down. Thankfully I had to get going by a certain point, and so I made my apologies and thank-yous and bade them farewell. I hope they do this again soon, though. I think I like these ladies!

Sculptures on the glorieta in front of the restaurant


  1. Anonymous4:40 PM

    Immersion is such a great way to learn, but can be so disconcerting at times! Sounds like a great time, though! Proud of you!!

    Love you,