Hey guys, guess what? Hosting two kids in your house who don’t speak English is actually kinda hard work! How about I break this first week down in seven?
1. First, Bart and Lisa, though being from Springfield, do not speak Springy. They live in a part of Springfield heavily influenced by their Shelbyville neighbors and as such, speak Shelby. Here’s where I mention I stayed up until 12:30 a.m. the night prior to pickup making all sorts of cute hand-drawn signs in Springy. They quickly became as useful as the picture books in Springy and English, the Springy dictionary, the “Learn Springy in Three Months” handbook, and the Latin to Springy missal pdf a nice priest from Springfield emailed to us.
2. Phrases I thought I should learn in Bart and Lisa’s native language: “Are you sad?” “Do you want a drink?” “Lunch”. Useful phrases I actually say several times a day: juice, prayers, snack, ‘Don’t hit your sister.’, ‘Stop screaming.’, and ‘Speak slowly into the Google Translate app.’ All the other host parents assured me that the language barrier wouldn’t be that big a deal, and while we’re managing, I’m still waiting for it not to be a big deal. I will have to collect the most commonly used Shelby phrases in our house by the end of the hosting. (And hopefully the most commonly used English phrases by Bart and Lisa.)
3. Considering all these kids have lived through in their short lives, they are, thus far, surprisingly well-adjusted. We read and prepared for kids with serious emotional issues that could manifest in a variety of ways but, they have yet to materialize. Not to say that we might not have some bumps down the road, however, Bart and Lisa, are good kids. When they understand what we’re asking or telling them to do, they listen. They offer to help. They play well with all my children. Certainly, they tested their boundaries (will I buy them everything they ask for in the store, can they ignore my instructions and keep playing, etc.) but all kids do that, so it’s not surprising. Given everything we learned in training, we’re more surprised they’re so joyful, such good eaters and sleepers and generally happy with everything. Their table manners aren’t the best, and they get much rowdier / rougher with each other than I’ve ever allowed my children to become, but that’s not because they’re “bad kids”; it’s obvious to all of us that they haven’t ever been taught differently. We’ve only got them for four-week; I know we can’t undo a lifetime of bad habits, so we’re working on a few key habits while finding safe outlets for all their gregarious energy and making it easier for them to be good (like separating them at dinner.)
4. This past week has made me question a lot of my own parenting habits. Typically, when tied up in the kitchen, and I hear children arguing, my response is to yell something threatening and hope that’s the end of the matter. Should I actually have to stop what I’m doing to mediate some trivial argument, everyone knows I will not be happy and there will be consequences. However, yelling across the house at arguing siblings is pointless when neither one will understand you. I’m getting involved in everything, good and bad, because I have to. I can’t assume understanding or compliance. And I need to stay calm. I always yell at my own kids without a second thought, but yelling at kids who can’t understand me seems cruel, and then in turn, makes me question my usual operating style. In the past rowdy behavior meant you got sent to your room, but we’ve been trained to avoid using time outs with these kids, so instead of getting frustrated and just sending kids to their room for behavior that is second nature to them, I’m forced to find creative ways to avoid problems and new methods of discipline. It’s certainly taking me out of my comfort zone (though maybe I shouldn’t be so comfortable yelling??).
5. I’m not a touch love language person, but several people in my family are, so it’s not unusual for me to be totally touched out by the end of the day;when the thought of snuggling together for a bed time story makes me visibly wince. But now I’ve got two more kids I’m trying to form “healthy attachments” with and our trainers encouraged Tony and I to hug, hold hands, snuggle, etc with them. Lisa has instantly warmed up to us and is comfortable with physical contact; you can add her to the list of people clamouring for the spot next to me on the couch. Bart is more reserved so I have to push myself to be more engaged with him which is so hard and feels so awkward and forced to me. And then I feel guilty for not doing more with Bart, plus the feeling that, if I can make this much effort for him, should I be doing more for my own kids?, which I never questioned before hosting.
So, while I knew hosting would have it’s challenges, I didn’t expect to have my attention stretched so thin or to question my ability to parent.
6. Funny things. Bart and Lisa love cereal. Lisa tried asking for it at every meal one day. The word in Shelby for cereal is cute, but it’s like 83 syllables so I haven’t memorized it yet. Plus, they’re crazy for cucumbers. I put out chopped raw veggies at lunch and they devour all the cucumbers. Sometimes with ketchup. They love ketchup on everything, or just by itself. We had some extra ketchup packets left over after eating at Chick Fil Lay and Lisa just tore them open and then squeezed them into her mouth. I’m picking my battles and while that grosses me the hell out, it’s not worth breaking out the Google Translate app. Using the app is better than nothing but sometimes it’s so far off I think it must be messing with us on purpose. In trying to tell Bart and Lisa it was “bedtime”, Google produced a huge sentence of Shelby. Bart read it and laughed, but ultimately went upstairs to bed. After cross checking we realized the English translation was “The time of waste going to bed.”
7. If you have OCD, please don’t come look at our Christmas tree. For the last few years, Tony has hung the lights, and I’ve allowed the kids to decorate the tree with very minimal rearranging from me (usually just moving glass ornaments out of wheelchair crashing height). Bart and Lisa were excited to decorate the tree and with the other kids help, I think they hung every. single. ornament. we had. Our tree, even the side up against the window, is fully decorated. And no ornament is lonely, it’s got two or three friends nearby, or even on the same branch to keep it company. Bart wanted me to read the text on every ornament to him; family names, baby’s first Christmas, etc. But he got really confused when I tried to explain the ‘Made in China’ sticker left on the bottom of one angel.
So there are a few tidbits. Let me know if you have any specific questions then share your Takes below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!