Vecinos

A little over a week ago Bilingual Baby and I were swinging in the hammock on our front porch telling stories. All of a sudden we heard a chorus of small voices shout, “Hola!” Joj and I looked up but didn’t see anyone. We smiled at each othermaybe that ‘hola‘ wasn’t for usand went back to our story.

But again, closer this time, a group of kids (most likely on the count of three) called out, “Hola!” This time we saw them peering their smiling heads out from the outdoor shower. “Hola!” we shouted back. We have been fast friends since. That first day it didn’t take very long before they were all piled into the hammock and I was reading them a book about a vegetarian dragon named Floro (one of Jojo’s favorites).

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They must get home from school around noon because that’s around the time that they usually start peeking into our yard to ask, “¿Cuanto falta?” How much time is left before Jojo’s home? they want to know. I tell them two and a half hours, but they still come back half an hour later to ask how much longer.

When it’s finally time, they follow me to the bus stop to pick her up. When they aren’t on her front porch, Bilingual Baby is asking where her friends are. Often, they run and play together while I swing in the hammock and read a book. It’s kind of what I imagined motherhood would be like. The reality of having an only child, however, has meant a lot more pretend play with your kid and a lot less hammock time.

The other day, while Lyon and I were working on the porch, the youngest of the bunch (five) came on up, walked into the house to get the paper and crayons, and joined us at the table. Lyon animated on his ipad, I uploaded photos to the new Clayworks website, and she sat quietly, coloring. Like the backs of their hands, they know the small shelf where Jojo keeps her tiny, travel-friendly toys (necklaces, poker chips, sparkly pompoms, cups, crayons, stickers, and, Legos). And they always put things back in their separate bags, back on the toy shelf—I never have to ask them.

Last week, the seven-year-old girl in the bunch started talking about a “fogata” she was having soon and how we were invited. I wasn’t sure what a fogata was, and she explained that there was fuego and that they would be roasting something called, marbombiscos….something like that. She wasn’t sure really what they were called, but they were delicious!For two days they gathered sticks and flowers for it and reminded us to be home in time.  We smiled and nodded cluelessly until the day of the actual fogata: The sun was going down, and when they saw us walking up the street towards our house after being at the beach, they rushed us, “¡Es la hora de la fogata! ¡Vengan!” They followed us home, picked out a dress for Jojo, picked out a dress for me, and took us by the hands.

Lyon and I looked uncertainly at each other. Would this be dinner? Should we bring something?  Did the parents know we were coming, and were we really invited?

I sent Lyon to the store and the kids ran with Jojo down the street while I fumbled with the lock on the door and tried to keep up. They were all so excited.

Next up: The fogata and the mysterious marbombiscos.

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