Our first concern when we arrived in Canada in November was to enroll the kids to school as soon as possible. While the school year in Brazil is from February to December, the following school year which is from September to June had already started here! The twins were only finishing their first year of primary school in Brazil, but they had missed the first months of their second year (Gr.2) here in Canada! And Uriel had missed his first months of primary school (Gr.1)… I was afraid that their reading skills would be behind from the rest of their peers.
Another concern was the language. They had started to read and write in Portuguese and had adjusted rather well to the Portuguese language. I was completing their education with some French lessons at home and French is also the language we speak at home. However, they’d had little to no contact with the English language before coming here. What would happen now?
In Southern Ontario we discovered that there are four publicly funded school boards, English public, English catholic, French public and French Catholic. Free education of good quality (and free school buses!) was after all one of the main reason we came back. I’m loving it! 🙂
The choice was hard for us. On the most practical side, there is an English public school two blocks from our house. The other option was to send them to a French catholic school a little further away, but with free school bus service. Should we drop them in the English language and see what happens (we know how kids learn fast, right?), or ease the transition and look into a French school (their oral skills are obviously good, but the writing and reading in French in not as… intuitive).
We ended up deciding to send them to a French school for now. The idea is that they will hopefully learn to read and write the harder language first, be exposed to the French Canadian accent (which is not a bad thing in my opinion — they are French and Canadian after all!), then pick up English along the way (most of the kids in school speak English at home and behind the teacher’s back!).
Another fun fact: taking the yellow bus to school is a (very exciting) daily adventure! Their first thought was probably that they would step into the fantastic world of one of their favorite series. In truth, the ride that would take only 10 minutes if I would drive them directly to school takes them around 30 to 40 minutes… (not that they have anything else to do anyway, ha ha)
We have been doing quite well over here. Winter is slowly coming to an end, with snow flurries here and there, but nothing stays on the ground anymore. In the past few weeks, I finally bought a new (second-hand) bike and went for a ride along the river. It was still chilly but it made me feel alive. There is something so simple and freeing to be on a bike. I don’t know if it’s speed, the wind on my face, or the simple fact that I can go fast with the sole strength of my legs. In any case, I visited two different swimming pools, subscribed for a monthly membership (it can be used for any of the four city’s swimming pools and their fitness centers), registered the boys for swimming lessons (90% of which was paid by the city! — a program for low income families), and have accompanied them for their first official swimming lesson! It was all very exciting for me and for them.
I used to swim a lot, eons ago, when I was a young (and fit!) student. The only team sport that I actually liked to play was water-polo, which I played regularly for a couple of years in Montreal. I like to find myself in the rhythmical balance of breathing and movement, it’s soothing. Ironically, before moving to Brazil, I thought that with the year round beautiful weather over there I would certainly find a pool and swim more regularly than I did here. Unfortunately, unless you pay hefty condo fees to have access to a pool or a club membership, there are no public swimming pools like there are here in first world countries. Sure, theoretically there are amenities such as schools, pools and libraries in Brazil, but like most things, there are not easy to find, not easy of access, not affordable for the general population. As the Brazilians say, é complicado.
Early morning view of Detroit on my way to the pool on the pathway with my bike. Happiness.
What will happen to this blog now that I am back in Canada? Does it make sense to keep writing “A Never Ending Summer” when it’s actually a cold, wet, snowy, gray winter day outside my window? I don’t have the heart to close this blog, open a new one, or even resuscitate the old one from before our Brazilian adventures (Kaleidoscope). It seems too long ago, a very old chapter of my life.
I don’t even write here as much as I used to anymore, but I don’t want to stop completely. I like to leave crumbs of my life behind me.
Here is a solution: I could look at the word summer of my title a different way, not only as the warm season of a year (or five Brazilian years) but also the season of my life. A state of mind. A never ending sunny state of mind (or the search thereof). What do you think? 😎