“So, to add to your stress level…” Teacher said Tuesday night as he started making dinner, “Lynn asked us for a big favor today. She said she’d owe you mucho margaritas if we could do it.” Lynn, aka Seidel Sensei, is the Japanese teacher at Teacher’s school. Each of the elementary schools in the district teaches either German, Spanish or Japanese to all the students beginning in Pre-Kindergarten. “There’s a group of Thai students and teachers coming to Wisconsin for two weeks and since the district has done this kind of thing before we were asked to host them, but one of the host families fell through.” Teacher continued. “Lynn asked if we could fill in and host one of them – she said she’d owe us big time. I’d really like to do it.” I looked at him in shock; I don’t know what kind of favor I was expecting but it certainly wasn’t this! “I know I’ve thrown this at you, I’ve had all afternoon to think about it. I almost called you right away but I wanted to talk to you in person. If you don’t want to it’s OK. Oh, and they’re arriving this Saturday.”
At first I was dismayed and my brain spun with a thousand thoughts: There’s no way we can do this. It’s challenging enough to have my in-laws around all day Friday when I’m working with the daycare, I can’t handle someone hanging around all day every day for two weeks. What if we can’t understand them? What if they can’t understand us? What will we feed them? Do Thai people eat dairy? What if they don’t like our food? The van is full with just us, how will we get anywhere all together? How are we going to get College Boy’s room and the rest of the house all cleaned up in time?
“What would they do all day?” I asked. “It’s the English teacher, and he’d go to school with me.” Teacher replied. That’s not so bad then, I can handle that. And Teacher wants to do it, he always finds ways for me to do the things I want to do. How can I say no? Besides, it would be great for the kids, and someday we want to go overseas – what if we were the ones without a host family? “OK, we’ll do it.” I told him – hopefully more confidently than I felt. “But we should probably talk to the kids first because it’s going to affect them too.” As Teacher continued to work on dinner I started to plan a cleaning schedule and tried not to worry.
During dinner Teacher told the kids about the opportunity. “That sounds cool!” Princess said, “Do you think he’ll teach us some Thai words?” Angel Face and Jo-Bear agreed that it sounded like fun. “Is it for sure?” Angel Face asked. Teacher turned to me with the question in his eyes and I said “Yes, it’s for sure.” He mouthed Thank you to me as I warned the kids that we’d have to do some major cleaning. “Tomorrow we’ll clean the stairs, upstairs bathroom and hall; Thursday we’ll clean the entire basement, steps to playroom; and Friday we’ll hit College Boy’s room.” Unbelievably they all agreed without much complaining!
The next day I shared the news with my friend Nicole. Nicole’s mom has hosted exchange students for years so I asked her about how to feed our guest. “You just make whatever you’d normally make and he’ll eat what he wants.” she said. “He’ll be here to experience our culture so that’s what he’ll be expecting.” After hearing that and after thinking about things all day I was feeling pretty good about the whole situation. Since our guest was an English teacher I assumed he’d have a fairly good command of the language. I wasn’t looking forward to cleaning, but with the kids’ help it would go faster, and I’d already worked out a plan to help things go smoothly. I was still a little worried that Teacher and I would lose our “together time”, but I trusted that we’d be able to carve out some time alone together.
Photo Credit: Texas Margarita by idrink.com.