Maja started preschool last week! Really? This is going to be my first entry on our past month in Thailand? Yes, simply because I think I can do it in 45 minutes or less and I need something (SOMEthing) finite to start and finish before taking on how to sum up the past 30+ days in new country. Plus I owe grandparents some pictures.
So here goes: we knew we wanted Maja to have some type of ongoing immersion opportunity with peers her age to help her adapt and begin to embrace Thailand. (Emerson too, but he’ll have to wait until he turns 2.) Our colleagues’ 4-year old daughter (and Maja’s first little friend here) goes to Sunshine Kindergarten, and along with other reasons, we decided to go for it. Also, it’s nicknamed “Sunshine” in our family, the same nickname for our favorite preschool in Durham, Sunshine Smiles Academy, where the kids attended one day/week to help us in the flurry of closing up shop in NC.
Sunshine is a bilingual program, with English lessons in the mornings and Thai in the afternoon. About 1/3 are Western children, I would guess. She’ll go two days each week. We have to drive by it to get to the house we are staying at, and even from a distance, Emerson (and Maja) spot it from the backseat and we hear his little voice singsong “shun-shine.” The couple times we visited, Emerson bolted immediately for the playground and sandbox and pitched a fit when it was time to leave: he’ll be ready for it come October!
For days, we talked with Maja about starting there, and the night before she went, Maja said there’d probably be a lot of toys there. Brenden added, “…and Thais.” And so she was ready on start day.
A couple Thai things are going on in this picture: First, the expectation that shoes are removed before entering a house. Here’s Maja putting on her shoes as we leave for Sunshine. This is actually a great success for us: our first week here, as we went to several different homes (either to visit teammates or to check out homes to rent), Maja was NOT happy about having to take her shoes off every time. So in addition to trying to calm a tearful girl, we were crouching down in the heat trying to buckle buckles or tie ties–4 to 5 times or more each day. Enter Thai observation 2: character slip-on shoes. 99 baht (about 3 dollars): Hello Kitty for her, Winnie the Pooh for Emi. And she can put them on herself. (We ran into another family who had just arrived from America, and their 2-year old had the same shoes as Emerson. The mother commented, “So Thai.” My thoughts exactly.) We chose a day and went “all-in”, so that all 4 of us take our shoes off every time we go in or come out, even at our own home, even for a minute, and since then, both kids know the drill.
And in case this seems more modern or Western or fill-in-the-blank for how you may have been picturing Thailand…
…this is directly across the street from Sunshine. The parking lot/cow pasture. The kids are standing next to our truck. (Note said Winnie shoes.)
Maja went right off with the teacher, Kru Fang. (Kru means teacher.) She met other kids and as we left, she was walking toward the morning gathering, where they sing the Thai National Anthem to start each day.
I picked her up (my first time driving without Brenden! I got in the wrong side of the car from the steering wheel, which is on the right.) and her first words were “I had so much fun today.” Or something like that. Woohoo. On the way home, she and I leisurely drove through the neighborhood looking at gate colors for ideas (almost all homes here have a gate around the property) because the house we are renting is in need of a good coat of paint on the gate. I got to practice making lots of turns in the neighborhood, looking right first instead of left–we drive on the opposite side of the road as in the States.) She was all jazzed up for about an hour after we got home and told us all about various Thai friends (whose names or sounds we had never heard or said before ourselves) and also that “Red means stop and green means go.”
Day’s end verdict: happy. And rainy. Rainy season is trying to start. Apparently it usually rains the whole month of June, but we are grateful to have had the past month sans rain as we’ve learned the city and how to drive, and so far we enjoy the short bursts of rain when they come.
And while Maja was at school…
…we signed a contract on a house to rent! But that’s another story. (No, really, it is.)
Note: Day 2 was not as smooth for Maja. She cried when we dropped her off and relief-cried as soon as she saw me when I picked her up. That’s more like my Maja. But she still concluded she wanted to go back next week. Sometimes I have to remind myself, “They’re still in transition. They’re still in transition. We’re still in transition. I’m still in transition.” (As if it’s hard to forget, at this point.) Let her go at her pace. One day’s response doesn’t predict the next day’s. (Unless it’s Emerson, who will never turn back 100% of the time if there are new toys or playground in sight.)
July 12, 2015 at 7:34 pm
That rental contract took my breath away! LOVE the cow + kid photos! Send photos of your truck and new digs and your gate once it is painted! No shoes in the house keep it cleaner?
July 13, 2015 at 12:56 am
Yes, more pics to come. Truck is on loan from a friend, but we hope to buy a vehicle this week. No shoes in house is part of Thai culture-check out this link: http://www.thailandbreeze.com/thai-culture-head-high-feet-low.html
July 17, 2015 at 9:02 pm
I love reading about your life! So thankful for Maja’s (overall) smooth transition into school. I can’t wait for some food pics! 🙂
July 18, 2015 at 6:43 pm
so grateful for this blog and your willingness to share your heart with us!! your children are beautiful and are growing up to understand the call of God on your lives to serve others. May those of us not as displaced as you all also be faithful to demonstrate God’s heart to our children!! Love you guys, julie and co.
July 28, 2015 at 1:54 pm
This is what I pray for. I am glad Maja is enjoying herself for the most part. It takes some time to get into something new but I know that soon she will be settled in and she will teaching you about Thais! 😉 God bless all of you. I miss and love each of you. Give Maja a high five for me and Emerson a big hug. I know God has you in Thailand and it is beautiful to watch.
August 4, 2015 at 7:39 am
High Five and Hugs given. xoxo. Doesn’t MTI seem like another world away?
January 20, 2016 at 12:55 am
Hello Becca! I heard of your site from Sonya. I am SO enjoying reading it/relating to it/planning for it as my family gets ready to leave for the field this April. I appreciate your candor and although everything I’m reading isn’t a surprise, it’s good to be reminded of what life will soon be like.
January 24, 2016 at 12:05 am
Ruth, Hi! You have a big transition coming around the corner, no doubt. I’m happy to know my experiences can encourage someone else. And please don’t hesitate to reach out via email for any reason-questions, someone to relate, etc. email@example.com