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Back in the Routine

School started last Wednesday for Simon and Thursday for Agotich. He’s settling into the fours like a big boy, with considerable excitement and independence; I’m already barred from walking up to his class on non-Agotich days and we’re five days into the year. Meanwhile, Agotich is moving on from the toddler room to the 2s like the toddler she is, with a bit of nervousness and separation anxiety from her former teacher/proxy grandmother Ms. Barb; she reached for me and cried “mama” when I left yesterday.

As I expected, Agotich’s English regressed a bit over the summer, though she has picked up one new key word: “Dai-mon!” As in “There Dai-mon!” or “Get Dai-mon!” If I ever doubted that she liked Simon as much as he liked her, I don’t any more. This year our Agotich days will be Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, though I expect that by February or so Alek will be driving and my load will be lightened. You’d think I’d welcome the relief, but it’s going to break Simon’s heart not to have Agotich here all the time. Even when she arrives early and ends up waking him up—usually a prescription for disaster—he will bound of bed with a smile if he knows it’s her. I think when Alek gets her license I’ll ask if I can still have her once a week.

Despite being only two days into the Agotich-day routine, I’ve already enjoyed two laugh-out-loud moments. The first came Wednesday, when I arrived at Alek’s apartment to find her watching a friend’s children while the mother, Yar, interviewed for a job. There was a nine-month-old girl who napped the whole time and her three-and-a-half-year-old brother, Kuaring, who initially eyed me and Simon with considerable suspicion. (More on that shortly; it was a fascinating visit.) A half-hour or so into out time together, Kuaring looked at me with a very serious face and asked, looking over at Simon and with his hand resting just above his eye-brows:

“Why does his hair go down to here?”

And when you think about it, to a Dinka boy whose head is covered with sparse, eighth-inch spirals, Simon’s hair must look quite bizarre indeed.

The second comment came from Simon in the car yesterday. He was asking about Agotich and when she’d speak English like we do. Actually, it was more complicated than that. First he asked when she’d speak English, and then he asked if she’d speak English like we do. It took me some time to work out that last bit, but I eventually figured out that he was trying to ask me if she’d have an accent like her parents do. Then, after pondering my explanations, he popped out with this one:

“When I was a toddler, did I speak Dinka?”

as if Dinka is just a toddler phase we all go through on our way to English.

I can’t wait to hear what other questions are circulating in that head of his. And for that matter, I can’t wait to hear what Agotich pops out with when she starts talking more, either.

One Response to “Back in the Routine”

  1. Amanda says:

    Hopefully Simon can teach Agotich English and she can teach him some Dinka.

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