Friday, January 26, 2007

Have You Met Miguel?

Since I neglected the blog, again, for a loooong time, the two people who read this blog have probably not heard about Miguel. We decided to host an exchange student this year, because we needed just a little more chaos and distraction in our lives, really. Miguel is 18 and he's from Bolivia. He's a good kid, but we have a very big communication problem in our house now because Miguel does not speak English. We expected this in the early days after his arrival in August. I figured he'd catch up once school began. No such luck, although the kid did manage to play football with absolutely no prior experience, develop quite a following of friends at school, and even have a couple of girlfriends within two months of his arrival, so clearly he is successful at some sort of teenage nonverbal communication. He does send a mean text message. I know, because he sent me one the other day, and it took me a good 5 minutes to figure out why the hell my phone was making that sound. Then it took me another 15 minutes to carefully compose and send a response that read, as follows, "OK, thanks."

I was, at one time, fluent in Spanish, so in the first month or so, I'd try to speak in Spanish to him in order to ease the transition. Then I realized that the point of an exchange program wasn't to feel like I was the one in a foreign country, struggling to remember the words for "do you like to eat cheese" in Spanish while standing in my own living room. Also because I'm fairly sure that I told Miguel at one point that I was pregnant, but I'm not really sure. Those Spanish words, they confuse me a bit.

Miguel has been here for about 6 months now. He has acclimated to the weather, a little. He's from the hot part of Bolivia, so I laughed a little when the temps dipped to 45 degrees and he waddled out to meet the school bus wearing a full parka, snow boots, a hat, fleece gloves and a scarf. It's Kansas, sweetie. Call me when it's 20 degrees and I'll help you bitch about the cold. He much prefers the weather in Florida, where we spent Christmas with my family, but at least he isn't trying to turn the heat up to 89 in the house anymore. All of my blankets keep disappearing to his room, though. I'm counting them as loss for now, because I've seen teenage boy rooms, and I will not subject myself to that just for a few blankets. Remind me to put new blankets on my shopping list, eh?

So, after 6 months, you'd think the English would be flowing a bit more freely, right? No. Not so much. He does know how to ask me to use the computer. Fancy that. However, the other day, when I was going to drive him to meet some people to go to an event, here's what went down.

Me: Miguel, you need to be ready to go at 8 tomorrow morning. I'll drive you to town so we can meet the people who will drive you to the city.
Miguel: 8 in the night?
Me: No, 8 in the morning. And you'll have to live without my delicious cooking for 4 days. Too bad for you!
Miguel: (laughing) OK, 8 in the morning. Good night.
Morning arrives. I'm getting myself and Maya ready to go. Miguel is getting ready to go.
Me: OK, are you ready?
Miguel: Yes.
Me: Can you go start the truck?
Miguel: OK
Ten minutes later. Truck is not started. I stomp outside to start truck. Come inside. Miguel is making a sandwich.
Me: Maya, we'll be ready to go in just a second, so hang out here by the door and get your shoes on.
Waiting impatiently. It's 8:05. Miguel is leisurely eating his sandwich. Finally finishes.
Me: OK Maya, you can go get in the truck now while I get my coat on. I think Miguel is ready.
Miguel: Goodbye!
Me: ........

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