The families returned back from Spain and we are getting settled again. I've really missed a lot of topics that I wanted to write about, so I'll have to get back to it at some time. Here is a list that I hope to gradually get through.
1) Getting Visas to Spain - (Terrible and not even required)
2) Getting our dog to Spain (Lots of paperwork that nobody ever checked)
3) Spanish Values - Seemed like a lot looser definition of honesty in cateluna. Lot's of cheating on the tennis court.
4) Travel - Sweden and the artic circle, Monaco, Marakesh, Italy, Egypt.
5) Kids last few days of school - very nice goodbyes from other kids
6) Visiting friends and family - 11 families came to visit. Funny stories but I'm not sure it is worth the trouble I'll get into.
7) Reflections on the year.
Just wanted a little reminder about good additional topics. Hopefully they will be coming soon.
Now that I’m starting to understand a little more Spanish, I’m finding some of the Spanish radio ads very funny. The one I like the most is a series of ads for learning English. One of the series starts out with a couple talking in English. The conversation goes something like:
Women: Oh dear, isn’t everything wonderful. It is so nice being able to spend all day together.
Man: I just love being together. I don’t think things could get any more perfect.
Women: Yes, this is just the way it should always be.
Man: We are so lucky that we can live this way.
Then the announcer cuts in and says in Spanish: You too can understand what couples like this are saying. In only 20 weeks you can learn English. Just call 93 739 3434 and you can be on your way to learning English.
Another ad in the series is a man reading the results of the Academy Awards. Followed by the same announcer, same message. A third ad in the series is someone reading Shakespeare’s To Be, or Not To Be passage in English (but with a heavy Spanish accent).
I’m not sure what this says about how Spaniards think about English. Especially the first commercial with the “loving” couple seems completely random to me. I’m not sure whether it is saying that with English your relationships will be better, or just that you will be able to enjoy the joys of American soap operas.
Another funny thing with the Spanish radio is what they do to the songs. When they play “Crazy in Love” they have edited out the man’s part. They also only play about 8 songs over and over. When we arrived we would hear Bon Jovi’s have a nice day about 3 times every hour. This lasted for approximately 4 months. Bon Jovi is on the slow rotation now. The new favorite is black eyed peas.
Not only are the Spanish kids precocious, but they are also use to getting a lot more independence. Many of the kid’s classmates walk from their homes to and from school. In the parks parents don’t hover around their kids the way Americans do. You often see groups of parents talking with the kids over a hill and out of site. The school also encourages this independence. Starting in first grade the school program includes a week long ski trip to the
My wife’s anxiety was exacerbated by an incident we had several weeks earlier with my son. My son had run into a problem with bullying in his class. Apparently this is a common problem with Spanish kids. We’ve known several American families that transferred their kids to the British school or even started home schooling just because of this problem. In our case, one particular student was making life miserable for our son. You might be able to guess how my wife reacted once she found out. Just imagine a grizzly bear watching some hikers poking the bear’s cub with a stick. I think the grizzly would have a more restrained response than my wife. In a two week period, we had six meetings with officials at the school to address the problem. This culminated in a meeting that included his teacher, the school psychologist, the head of the lower school, the school’s program director and the head of the school. Personally I would have given some of the earlier meetings more than a day to have an effect before returning to the school, but each day, when something new happened, we went right back in. To be fair to the school, my son wasn’t telling anyone at the school when he was getting pushed around, but mostly I have to give my wife credit. Since having our big meeting things got much better. Not only have there not been any more incidents, but they have also worked with my son so he will be better able to deal with bullies in the future. As an aside, you might think that kids would make a special effort when a classmate has to learn their native language, but in many cases you would be wrong. Some kids just suck.
Now you might want to skip this paragraph because I was going to devote it to bragging about my son. I think he’s done great to put this behind him. He is not only doing well socially, but he is also topping his class in many of his subjects. In the fifth grade math contest (given in Spanish) he came in second. He actually tied for first, but ended up losing a coin toss to decide the winner. He still thinks that school is lousy compared to schooling in the states that he can cruise through, but he seems much happier to be in the “lousy” school now.