Us pretending to leave with our new school supplies!
Exactly one year ago today, my little Daniella and I left the states in search of a better, more meaningful life together. So today officially marks our first full year living in Latin America. However, two weeks ago, we left the English-speaking, small country of Belize to better accommodate Daniella's high school education. If all goes as planned, she will attend an IB International World school in Panama (and no, not Panama City, Florida). While her school instruction will be mostly in English (the exceptions are Spanish and Panamanian Social Studies), the National Language of Panama is Spanish. So, we have to learn...we want to learn. I think speaking multiple languages is an asset that opens up a world of possibilities, and I'm determined to make sure Daniella is at least bilingual.
On the Copa Airlines flight from Belize City to Panama City, the reality set in hard that we won't be able to get by without learning Spanish, and doing so quickly! It's been so surreal, as I feel like we've actually gone back in time to being a baby that hears all kinds of voices and conversations while not understanding a single word. And, then we feel those other baby-to-toddler moments where we want to express or say something and don't yet know how to do it. However, unlike babies or tots, I don't think us having public tantrums to communicate is going to go over very well here. So, I had the brilliant idea of going to the kid section of this department store here that sells just about everything under the sun. There we found coloring books to teach us words, games we grew up playing (in Spanish), and basic reading books for learning little humans!
One day, as we were coloring our carrots, sheep, umbrellas (a word which has come in great handy already in rainy Panama), etc., I couldn't help but laugh because it felt so silly. However, I was also feeling so grateful that I now know and am experiencing what it actually feels like to be in those first stages of life. And, the best part is that I get to go through this science-fiction-like experience with my amazing daughter.
However, unlike the timeline for those first developmental milestones, we need to expedite ours, as taking 5 years to read a book with REALLY BIG SIMPLE WORDS about using our manners isn't quite going to cut it. So, while I was dragging my feet, as I often do when I'm overwhelmed (which is all the time, by the way), my little Daniella started researching Spanish speaking language schools. Two days ago she made me contact a few. So, on Monday (yikes!), we start in-person, intense, immersive Spanish-speaking language school every week day--together! She will go from 8:30 to 12:30 (4 HOURS!!!) and because I have to squeeze my classes into a day that already holds a more than full-time corporate job responsibility, I'll do 2 of those hours each day. While our classes will be separate, we are viewing this 100% as a yet another, "mother/daughter life aborad" experience. We even went school supply shopping together! We will do this up until she starts school on August 16th. By that time, she'll have logged 100 hours of Spanish learning to my 50 in just 5 weeks time.
Both of us have a healthy dose of anxiety, as we know that language learning is so hard because one has to go completely out of his or her comfort zone and not worry about saying the wrong thing or pronouncing things incorrectly. It's one of the biggest barriers to learning a new language and is likely why many shy away from it. We have 2 more "play" days until this brutality becomes a reality, so we plan on enjoying it to the fullest as tourists of this amazing country.
I know my little Daniella, and I know she's terrified, but I also know she's so eager to understand and communicate back so she can step out of my shadow when we go to a restaurant or are looking to buy slippers at a department store. For the record, Google Translate gave me the word for sneakers and so I had to keep saying, "no, zapatos por la casa... por al dentro en la casa y no afuera"! We did end up finding slippers, which are called pantuflas, by the way, and I got to embarrass myself completely in the process. I guarantee it's a word that will forever be etched in our brains.
At the end of the day (ok, at the end of 25 days of pure intensity), we'll have fully experienced going back in time to earlier developmental human life stages with the intention of more successfully launching us into our future--a future we know will have endless opportunities that will not go unseized by this duo!
So, yes we are literally "going back to the future"--our future! <3 <3 <3