Living in a country where you are still learning the language is kind of like experiencing life with a huge cotton ball on your head.
Today I took Adela to an appointment for something called a Tac Torax. Her doctor had explained to me that it was some type of chest scan, which made sense given her ongoing cough. What I couldn’t understand was all the talk around sleep. First, when I called to schedule the scan, I was told she needed to be awake 5 hours before the exam. When I expressed my confusion over this (she is 6 months old and has probably never been awake for 5 hours in a row), the annoyed phone operator repeated the bizarre request slower and louder, obviously frustrated to have the bad luck to be helping such a moron. Upon arriving for the scan, I was told that Adela needed to be asleep before the exam and stay sleep for 10 minutes during the exam. Again, I was confused at how this was practically going to play out (she was tired but doesn’t sleep on command). And then, as it turned out, she didn’t need to sleep at all but just needed to be relaxed enough for the loud whirring mystery machine to do its magic. After what felt like seconds, the lab tech returned to the room and congratulated us on how well she had done. Well, OK then, great, I thought, we’re done. But then two of the medical professionals told me that the results were ready now. What I didn’t understand was whether or not a doctor was going to discuss them with me. First I thought they said yes, right now. Then I understood that I had to go to pediatrician’s office. But I didn’t have an appointment scheduled, so I asked how this worked, only to finally understand that the exam was ready in the system, but in order to talk to the doctor about it, I needed to schedule another appointment. Ah, yes. Obviously.
This is my life. I try very hard to understand what the heck I’m being told, and then usually settle for getting the gist. I don’t know what kind of chest exam Adela had today. I’m sure it’s a great one. But unless I took an hour to dig and research and translate, I’m going to remain partly in the dark.
Last week, I accidentally asked my friend if she could do dinner “this night” instead of “that night”. As she rushed to change her schedule in order to join us for dinner that same night, she texted me updates and told me how she’d rearranged things to make “this night” work. I, meanwhile, ignored my phone and enjoyed a relaxed afternoon until my friend finally called to figure out where we were going to dinner. I was completely confused because it was Thursday and I’d asked if she wanted to get dinner on Tuesday…and because I’m often confused when speaking Spanish on the phone. I apologized, befuddled by the whole conversation, but upon finally seeing her messages, I realized my mistake.
And then there are the preschool emails. They are frequent, they are typically requesting something, and they are often so new-vocab heavy that I have to read them multiple times with the help of google translate. The kids started studying something called “chanchitos de la tierra” this week. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t be doing a whole unit on little pigs of the land (which is the direct translation) so I looked it up and conferred with my fellow English-speaking mom. Turns out, they are in fact doing a whole unit on an insect that seems akin to a roly-poly. Thank goodness this announcement came via an email rather than in person because there is basically zero chance I would have figured that out via context clues. So now the question is, do I talk to Rayna about roly-polys or chanchitos de la tierra?
I’m constantly confused about what the sweet teachers/tias want from us and my eyes glaze over when a message seems to be about paperwork or pre-school certifications. Normally the tias are gracious when I have no idea what is going on, though I did get a little lecture recently when I showed up with a photo of Jeff instead of a poster board presentation of his life. Turns out the nuance between a picture and a project still eludes me in Spanish, and as a result, there was no artsy ode to Jeff hung on the jardin wall this month. I hope Rayna doesn’t notice how out of step I often am or how I consistently do the bare minimum on her school projects (because, while it’s sometimes a language thing, it is just as often a protest because it is preschool for crying out loud!). Let’s be honest, I’m not really trying to blend in, I’m just aiming to get her there on time and with brushed teeth (both her teeth and mine:).
The struggle is real, but it’s not all bad. For example, I do understand when the elderly woman on the corner, the businessman crossing the street, and the gal in line at the bread shop swoon over Adela (this was just today). My range of sweet things to say to babies is nice and wide, which is probably more important than medical terminology anyways;). Love!