Discovering our new town, Cascais.
Discovering our new town, Cascais.
Maggie, my lovely 11 year old daughter, has fallen in love. She was my most resistant family member when we decided to move to Portugal. She was leaving Florida and the comforts of weekly Disney World trips behind. She was apprehensive. She was mad, but mostly she seemed scared. She is a true American girl. She lives for Chick-fil-A and trips to Target. She liked her friends and was very fearful that she wouldn’t fit in in this new culture. Guess what? She was wrong. Unlike poor Pippa, Maggie is attending an International Christian school in English. It follows a US curriculum and even gives her three days off for Thanksgiving. To top it all off, her class has a fellow Floridian. Score!
Then…our new house is a 10 minute walk to the mall. WHAT? Heaven for a preteen. So, Maggie has fallen in love. We knew it had to happen sometime. At least, it is with a whole nation and not some nasty pre-pubescent boy who smells terrible because he hasn’t figure out he needs deodorant yet.
Since I negotiated with the school to pick my youngest child up at lunchtime, I have the opportunity to find out all of the happenings of the morning. Pippa was very excited to tell me about a man who visited the school and taught them about yo-yos. Seems like a pretty odd thing, but I was happy she was happy.
She really buried the lead of the morning though… Her first fight and the reason her brand-new pants were disgustingly dirty at the knees. Apparently she was playing tag in the playground. She tagged a boy and he was not impressed. Mind you, this is the same boy that has been following her around every day at school. He is missing all of his front teeth and where his canine teeth are, he has gold fangs. I wish I could make this crap up. I would call the kid a stalker, but he seems a little young for that moniker.
Anyway, ‘fang boy’ decided to beat Pippa up. In her words, “he punched me in the heart and then kicked me in the vagina.” Horrified I asked her what she did. She said after she fell to the ground, hence her dirty knees, she punched him in the stomach.
Of course, or for course as Pippa puts it, there were no teachers present. There never are. Another kid stopped ‘fang boy’ and the helpers…more about them another day…made the boy apologize. Pippa seems unfazed. She did ask for more lunch time dessert to help mend her trauma. Well played Pippa, well played.
I would think that toilet paper would be provided at school. I guess I was wrong. Pippa mentioned that the bathroom doors don’t lock. She said that she is too short to hold the door shut with her feet. She also claims that seeing other people’s private parts is nasty. Especially, tinkleberries (AKA..penis). No locks, fine. I get that. They don’t want dumb kids to lock themselves in the stall. No TP…that is gross. After a few days of coming home with dirty underwear, I asked the teacher, in my broken Portuguese, why they had no TP. Apparently, the kids must ask for it and the teacher dispenses it before bathroom breaks. Thanks for telling my kid before hand. Why you may ask? Portuguese kids cannot be trusted with toilet paper. If they can get their hands on it, they wet it and throw it on the roof. They clog the toilets and essentially trash the bathroom. Sounds like Mad Max. These kids are bad ass.
Pippa: “I am not going back to school after lunch.”
Pippa: “They put us in the basement with broken toys and naked dolls that are written all over. Kids actually fight over these lame toys. The teacher puts the fighters in head locks. The whole thing is creepy.”
We moved away from Florida only to see a sand sculpture of an alligator after having eaten the arm off of someone. Disturbing? I would venture to say yes,
So I guess fighting is acceptable in Portuguese public schools. Pippa, my precocious first grader, comes home daily with tales of intense beat downs. I am not talking about small cat fights in the playground. No…what she describes and what I have witnessed when picking her up… have been full out nasty brawls. Punching so much that the teacher ends up putting one of the kids in a headlock. Pippa is unfazed by the fights. How is this possible? She, thankfully, lives in her own world. She sees them, but keeps her distance and just thinks they are cray-cray. Let’s hope it stays that way!
My youngest daughter is basically a complete nut job. She is insanely funny for a 6 year old. She gets comedic timing. She is the Jerry Seinfeld of the 6 year old club circuit. She makes great observations on everyday life. I have been writing down her musings since she could talk. One day at the age of three she stated, “I am going to be president one day.” Impressed by her assertion I asked her when, she said “when I have hair on my vagina.” She just operates differently.
We decided a challenge would be good for her, so we signed her up to go to our local school. No one speaks English. She does not speak Portuguese. She did not seem concerned. She said her job is clear. What is her job, you may ask. According to her, “to teach these kids to speak my language.” We’ll see how that goes.
We packed up everything we owned and put it into a 10×25 storage unit in Fort Pierce, Florida. The same Fort Pierce, Florida that was where the eye of Hurricane Matthew was supposed to hit. The hurricane became pretty wimpy when it made landfall there…luckily! So, the stuff survived and I am taking that as a good sign, that we too will endure during our three year stay in Cascais, Portugal.