Every once in a while we like to look back at the bucket list we threw together at the beginning of our first Foreign Service tour, a few months into our marriage – to check if we can cross off any items and add a few new ones, but also to reflect on the time that has transpired and how it has changed both us and our goals.
Posts tagged ‘literature’
Tuscany’s richly deserved fame as one of the world’s premier art, food, and wine destinations draws millions of visitors every year. While adults flock to Florence, for young travelers, one of the region’s highlights is hidden away in the tiny town of Collodi, roughly halfway between Florence and the Ligurian coast. Carlo Lorenzini, the Florentine writer who created Pinocchio, had family in Collodi and adopted the town’s name for his pseudonym. Modern-day Collodi is replete with all things Pinocchio, and its quirky amusement park dedicated to the famous long-nosed marionette is a must.
Cambridge is where D began his brief visit to England and also where his trip ended. Because his friend is a postdoc at one of the thirty-one distinct colleges that comprise Cambridge University, D had a chance to peek behind the curtain and experience this venerable institution of higher learning as both a tourist and an insider.
The grass always seems greener on the other side, so the saying goes, but there are exceptions, and this was one of them. There was no doubt in D’s mind as he transited three airports over the course of 27 hours that the return alone from Portland to Kigali was going to be a bit of a downer. What he hadn’t quite counted on was to find the saying to have literal implications as well. Rwanda is a lush, verdant country for most of the year, but D returned during the height of the dry season to find the countryside sere, the grass wilting brown, and the air pregnant with dust.
“Oh no, Tigey! The big bad wolf is coming to eat us!” Munchkin squealed with delight, clutching his stuffed tiger as he cowered behind a couple of throw pillows on the couch. When D growled to be let into his makeshift house, Munchkin squealed even louder, giggling all the while. “Not by the hair of my chinny-chinny-chinny,” he exclaimed defiantly from under a pillow before making a beeline out of the room and screaming, “Run away! Run away! Run away!” A few minutes later, Munchkin donned his wolf costume, Halloween having come a few months early in our household, and the roles were reversed, with D cowering on the couch while Munchkin pretended to eat him.
When Munchkin drums on S’s belly and enjoins his baby sister to come out, he is no doubt genuine – the little man does not like being kept waiting for anything that’s been promised to him. Of course, he is also wholly ignorant of the changes her arrival will wreak on his privileged only child status. For our part, we are slightly nervous not just about how he will react to the change but also about the regression we’ve been warned to expect in his development.
From the outset, we have sought to instill a love of literature in our little man while limiting Munchkin’s screen time. Given how much time we spend in front of our laptops, the latter was bound to be a bit of a quixotic quest. At three, Munchkin is by no means immune to the draw of the bright screen; the educational series of Daniel Tiger videos is his current obsession, and he wheedles his way to watching a video most days. Even so, we spend considerably more time reading to him each day than he spends watching videos, and that is one victory of which we are proud.
“Here’s a kiss and a hug for you / I love you mommy for all you do / Happy Mother’s Day!” Munchkin sang to D, ignoring S’s softly whispered exhortations to substitute “papa” into the Mother’s Day song he had learned at school. “Happy Mother’s Day, papa, and babushka, and dedushka, and mommy!” he concluded. At least the sentiment was right, and he did tenderly refer to D as “my little fuzzy papa” a little while later.
Munchkin had been talking about leaving school and going to nana’s house for weeks on end. Of course, he was much more excited about the three airplanes than S with her 8-month bump and old-lady compression socks, who was decidedly more apprehensive about the 25-hour trip. All in all, he was a very good traveler, sleeping overnight from take-off in Entebbe until touchdown in Amsterdam, and eventually napping on the flight to JFK as well.
It’s been a while since we’ve felt the urge to tickle the keys of our laptops – more than a month has gone by since we’ve last added a page to this digital story of our Foreign Service life. A month spent in a whirlwind of work deadlines and pre-departure preparations, interrupted by the occasional social outing and a visit from one of our Moldova-era friends.