The next day while we waited for the bus, Bilingual Baby asked if it was really going to come, and (hopefully) whether her teacher would, instead, come to pick us up on her ATV. But the bus came. This time we were waiting in the right place. The bus was a small van with A/C but no working seat belts; even the one-and-a-half-year-old was hanging on, un-belted and unfazed by the bouncy ride. There were only six or seven kids and they gabbed in a mixture of English and Spanish—at one point the little one started singing the ABC’s in either English or Spanish or maybe Dutch, not sure.
As we drew near, I recognized the colorful “Slow/Despacio” signs that the students had hand painted and posted on the jungle road outside their school. And as the bus turned into the drive, the kids started clapping their hands and chanting, “¡Si, la escuela! ¡Si, la escuela!” Jojo was hooked.
She didn’t run into school with a giant smile on her face; she’s a careful, often wary girl. But she let me go easily when it was time to leave—no tears.
Since I didn’t have a car to drive back to Santa Teresa, I hung out in Mal Pais the entire time Bilingual Baby was in school. By that I mean I got a massage at a yoga resort next door, read by the pool, swam in the pool, and then had lunch at a seaside restaurant. Who am I?
When I returned to school at 1:45 for her 2pm pickup, she was sitting at a table with her back to me, playing with other kids, and her teachers all told me how well she’d done. They were all so impressed.
The director and I decided I should hide from her so she could practice getting back on the bus herself. I really wanted her to know what this process would be like without me, so I hid around the corner and watched as she got paired up with a buddy, was given her Spider-Man backpack to hold, and was loaded onto the bus. The director distracted Jojo while I climbed on the bus too and sat just out of her view.
As we bounced along the one road that connects all the coastal towns in this area, I could hear Jojo talking with the girls in the seats next to her, something about her “shorts pants.” I sang wheels on the bus with the girl next to me and occasionally looked back to observed my Bilingual Baby who, thankfully, stayed in her seat. Finally, while we were stopped, waiting for someone’s dad, Jojo heard my voice, realized I was there, and said, “Mama, ¡tu estás en el bus!” It was pretty cute.
At our stop we thanked the driver and got off. As we walked up the road to our house I asked Bilingual Baby if she wanted to ride the bus by herself the next day. “Si,” she said, with incredible ease.
When she got home, the main thing she wanted to tell Lyon was that one of her friends on the bus called her shorts pants “shawt pawnts.” We both cracked up at her impression of an English accent, which was actually spot on.
Tomorrow she would ride alone.