|One Chilean-Brazilian and two American-Brazilians on a mountain.|
This past long weekend we were visited for the second time by my son Nico's best friend Ricardo from Brazil. In fact, besides family, he is our only repeat visitor--apparently Weston has been put on some watch list that makes it dangerous for my friends to visit. It is true that we have really mean deer. But that's not my point.
Ricardo (name changed for privacy) is a child of the world. His parents are both Brazilian, but he was born in Chile, and grew up in Mexico and Panama before moving back to Brazil. Our kids met in kindergarten at the small British-language school they attended for three years in São Paulo. Ricardo still attends that school, and has seen every one of his closest friends leave year after year--the result of having a lot of ex-patriate families in the school.
The best part of this expatriate school, in my opinion, is making international friends. Yes, it is a private and expensive school, so the diversity is in the cultural backgrounds, not the economic. My kids were friends with South Africans, Australians, Indians, among others. Many of the kids were on their second or third expatriate experience.
After we moved from Brazil in July 2014, the kids keep in touch now by skype or through their parents emailing about their lives. And sometimes in-person visits--Ricardo was the second from the school, we also had a one-evening visit by friends heading up to Montreal from New York (how Boston was on the way, I will never know, but I love it!). We have also made an effort on two visits to Brazil to get the kids with their friends.
|Touch tank at the New England Aquarium|
Here the kids played like crazy. They made up fantasies about superheroes and Star Wars, animal tales and dance shows. While three is often a difficult number to get to play nicely, the arguments and tears were few and far between. For five days, the kids played in the snow, went for a day trip skiing, went to the science museum and the aquarium and laughed and talked in two (and sometimes three--my kids massacre Spanish pretty well) languages.
The kids remember their lives in Brazil in funny ways. During yesterday's make-believe session, Lalo was a superhero who was bullet-proof. Unless you shot him six times in the exact same spot. Somehow Lalo had remembered that the bullet-proofing on our Volvo in Brazil was Level 3--and that this could withstand up to five bullets shot in the same spot on the car--the sixth would penetrate. That made me more than a bit sad to think about early childhood and bulletproofing, but also made me smile to know that once in a long while, my kid listens to me. :)
One of the only things that bothers my kids about Ricardo is that he is in fourth grade while they are in third-- when he is almost six months younger than them. No amount of reiteration that the cut-off of ages is different between Brazil and the US will help. All they know is that Ricardo will graduate high school before them, and that "sucks". The only way I could make them feel better was to remind them that they will drive before Ricardo (driving age in Brazil is 18, here 16).
Repatriation is a long process, and more difficult emotionally than I expected for reasons I have talked about before. But then in talking with Ricardo's mom, I realized that there is really no such thing as re-patriation. You can never re-patriate. Because living in a different country for years changes you indelibly. You are never happy in just one place again--you miss certain things about different cultures in any place you have lived.
I miss the familiarity and sociability of Brazil. I miss our weekend house with no phone or internet, just the forever sky and woods. I see the US with new eyes and have less patience with the gun situation, with the legal sue-everyone-for-everything and the rules for everything. Yes, the latter is what makes the US work, but wouldn't it be nice to have a breakdown or two once in a while without a lawsuit or a gun being involved?
On Tuesday, we also received an automated message from the school superintendent about a bomb threat made against schools in Weston. Fortunately there were no kids in school on Tuesday. Sweeps were made of the schools; nothing was found. At least 15 other school districts were also hit with bomb threats and had to evacuate.
What a world. My world.