Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fresh Air / Friendly Town or How I Learned How Rotten of a Person I Am(Part 1 of 3)

On Monday we picked up our host child for a week's visit via the Fresh Air Fund's Friendly Town program. My head was full of hopes that we were able to provide a wholesome experience of country living and that our son develops a life long friendship, that we can each learn from the other's culture. Sounds silly, we're all from the same country. But New York definitely has a different culture than rural Pennsylvania.

We met Miguel (our host child) at the mall, where the coach bus from NY left 11 children for host families in our county. There must have been a bit of miscommunication and some skewed expectations because Miguel's first question was "Are we going to see a killer whale?" We really don't have those in the Susquehanna River or Chesapeake Bay. Sigh. He just got off the bus and I failed him already.

The first night went well, other than a little fear of the dark and too much love of our new kitten. (When she screeches it's because she doesn't like whatever it is you're doing, Sweetie.) We caught lightning bugs, played with the kitty, walked the puppy, and played basketball with the neighbors. By evening's end (midnight) the cat had had enough, I was exhausted, the Boy felt a little lonely, and Miguel was too excited to fall asleep. My mind was spinning trying to figure out what we'd do on Tuesday. I had already exhausted half the planned activities! I'm used to a fairly slow pace but Miguel was running from one activity to the next, faster than I could think up new ones.

Finally, everyone drifted off to sleep. I dreamt of Rumspringa, probably since I was getting up early to deliver a car full of chickens to an Amish meat shop for processing. Restless night.

After returning (from the meat shop) Tuesday morning, with many thanks to the Husband for going to work late so I didn't have to haul two little boys out of bed at dawn, the boys traipsed downstairs for breakfast. Immediately I started hearing "I'm bored. Can we play a video game?" The Boy tried to advise: "Sometimes when I''m bored I play an imaginary game. Mom won't let us play a video game." (He was correct!) This was followed by Miguel: "Can we go to the circus? Can you take us to the pool? Are we going to the zoo? Where's the kitten? I don't like toast. Can you go get the Legos?" With barely a breath in between.

It was kind of a rough day. Too much love on the kitty, some arguments between the Boy and Miguel, and that fast paced switching from one activity to the next. Yes, I caved. I let the boys play an hour's worth of Lego Star Wars while I had some alone time. Sigh. Failed again. But both boys were content.

When Husband returned from work, we headed to our high school for the annual third of July fireworks. (Yes, the 3rd of July.) After patiently waiting for darkness to fall, we were treated to an "oooh aahhh experience! Yeah! We succeeded! Sure that the boys must be exhausted we headed home to a bednight snack, and off to bed.

Or, in this case, a repeat of Monday night. "Ma (he calls us Ma and Dad) I need a drink of water. Ma, I want the kitty to sleep with me. Dad, I need music to sleep." around 1:00 in the morning I began losing patience. You really don't want to mess with my sleep, I get grouchy! I tried being sympathetic; it must be hard to be in someone else's home. And such a little boy, too. But our host coordinator said to do life as normal as possible. Treat the kids like a family member. He's probably lucky I didn't. Again, mama gets really grouchy when you mess with her sleep. Fortunately daddy does not. ( But don't mess with his food!)

I'm sure things will improve. If nothing else, I have reinstated "Alone Time" in our home, for the week at least. A wonderful hour where we each retreat to our rooms to nap, read, or just contemplate the ins and outs of our day.

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