“How are you settling in?” one of the parents asks as I wait to pick up one or another of my children while one or another of my other children is trying to extract a rock that’s poking out of the packed-down dirt right outside the elementary school.
“Pretty well,” I answer, and it’s true. We’re settling in beautifully, although we haven’t hung many pictures and I do need to organize the books. True, Lilah was a bit weepy for a week or so, but now that she’s learned the names of all the kids in her class, she’s her usual delightful, slightly offbeat self. She has a playdate tomorrow after school with a little girl in her class. Here’s how that came about:
Last week, as I left the synagogue where she’s in preschool, one of the moms stopped and looked at me. “Emily?” she asked. Turns out, Lilah is in class with the daughter of someone I went to high school with. True story.
In case you were wondering, we both look better than we did in high school.
There’s another girl from Lilah’s class coming over next week, and Zach has had one friend over and has two more playdates scheduled, and I’ve lost track of all the children Benjamin has become friends with because he is best friends with everyone. It’s easy to integrate here because the community is so diverse and international. In fact, Benjamin is only the third newest kid in his class, as two other kids have started this week.
There are families here from Israel, Turkey, Korea, and quite a few countries in Africa. One little girl in Ben’s class hails from Afghanistan. Although there’s a significant language barrier, the mom and I are on a first-name basis: she call’s me “Benjamin’s Mom,” and I call her “Y’s Mom.”
I’m finding my way around, delightfully on foot. I prefer it that way, and although it takes a good 20-30 minutes for the boys to walk to and from school, we’re hoofing it. I throw Lilah in the stroller and load up with backpacks. We’re all getting our exercise, with the possible exception of Lilah who has a meltdown every morning after we leave her brothers at school when I insist that she needs to walk the remaining two blocks to her preschool. But then two days ago, she ran the entire mile home, so I think she just likes to bitch about things.
Today, I walked a slightly different route to get Lilah from preschool, and I could have sworn I saw Y’s Mom in a driver’s ed car. When we saw each other an hour later at the elementary school, I asked if she was learning to drive.
“Yes. I am taking some class.”
“Women don’t drive in Afghanistan?” I asked, as if I didn’t know the answer.
“No. So I am learning here.” The conversation was clearly difficult for her, but she was determined to hold up her end, and she introduced me to her older daughter.
So, yes, we’re settling in fine in the town where we speak the predominant language and where I run into someone from my teen years outside the synagogue and where my best friend lives 11 miles away. Given that Y’s Mom is learning to drive for the first time in her life, I’d say we’ve got it pretty easy.