February has been a good month for us. It seems that we are all making some positive transitions in our experiences here. It is our sixth month out of the eleven we will spend here in Ensenada, and right after our half-way mark we are really noticing some changes.
This week was exam week for us and I noticed that Theo can study for his exams independently and without panic . . . and I'll bet he aced them. He loves to read his world history book. He occasionally has to consult a dictionary, but for most of his study time he just studies like a native Spanish speaker. It's amazing to watch. He also started going to a gymnastics class in January. All of his new buddies in class have introduced him around the gym as their new friend "who speaks Spanish and English." No one speaks to Theo in English at the gym or calls him a gringo. They just refer to him as the new bilingual kid. Now that's progress.
Nathan woke up early this morning. Instead of turning on the computer and rushing to find out some news from home, he sat on the couch and read a book. This is not new for Nathan -- he reads to relax. What's new is that he just sat and read The Witches by Roald Dahl in Spanish ("Las brujas" en español). In typical Nathan fashion, he just "inhaled" the whole book in one sitting. That's another sign of progress.
Then, we got a phone call mid-morning from the principal of the middle school, who also happens to be our neighbor. Her husband invited Nathan and Theo to go to the beach with him and his kids (their son Aldo is in Theo's class at school and appeared with Theo in this blog in a cute Halloween photo). They were surfing, boogie boarding, skim boarding, wave boarding, and skate boarding for a good part of the day. (Nathan was very exciting to try surfing for the first time. Theo hopes to try when the weather gets a bit warmer.)
What was remarkable to me is that it just felt like such a "normal" Saturday for us. Nathan was reading. Theo was making pancakes. We got a call from the neighbors and the kids went out to have some fun. The rhythm of life here seems more natural to us now and we are developing some good friendships. Those are definite signs of progress.
What big turning point have I had? That's harder to say. My progress in Spanish is slow. The kids are sprinting ahead while I take baby steps -- but we are all heading in the right direction. My reading has improved a lot. I can read school notices and the newspaper and I feel like I know what's going on around me. I don't have that "completely in the dark" feeling anymore! I can say that I feel much more relaxed and confident here than I did in the fall. I am even much more comfortable driving (a bigger challenge than you might think!). So, all in all, even I can feel the change.
Now that we are feeling so at home here, I think that the spring will fly by.