I'm sure Reese (also known as the six-year-old named Reese) will have many more play dates during his time as a kid. Who knows? Maybe he'll even have play dates as an adult. (More adults probably should have play dates, but I digress.) But today marked Reese's last play date with his friend "Eric" from South Korea.
Eric and his mother spent the past school year in Duluth, Georgia, which actually has a very large Asian population--so much so that whole strip malls, billboards and advertisements are in Korean. Apparently, some of the other kindergarteners have done the same thing. They come over for a year to experience America and learn English before growing up in Korea.
Eric's mother set up the play dates at the beginning of the year (through her own broken English), because she wanted Eric to learn English outside of the classroom. So every Wednesday when I haven't been in Ohio, Eric and his mother have met Reese, Baby Will and I at the Chick-Fil-A across the street to play, learn from each other and struggle to communicate through our language barriers. And I think everyone has benefitted.
Eric (and his mother) speaks and understands English much better than he did at the beginning of the school year. Reese has come out of his shell a little more and seems braver on the playground. Even Baby Will has developed physically over the course of the year--developing from the little guy who couldn't walk or talk yet to the little guy who now climbs up on equipment and does a little chicken dance (picked up from The Wiggles). Not all of this development came from our Wednesday meetings, but some did. And we've developed a friendship and familiarity with each other--even as we can't fully communicate what we did over the previous weekend.
In a week, Eric will be headed back to Korea. He already says he's upset and wants to stay in Georgia where his friends are. But some of those friends will be heading back to Korea and others back to Japan. Even Reese will not be coming back to Mason Elementary next year, since we're planning on moving up to Ohio in August to live closer to Ben and Jonah.
On Monday night, the kindergarten classes performed a play that consisted of songs they'd learned over the course of the year. They all did great and made everyone smile. All of these little kids who have grown so much (physically, mentally and socially) over the past several months will continue to spread in different directions, and I hope many of them will remember how alike they are now--not just skin colors and/or languages--but six-year-olds learning songs and coloring pictures and playing at recess together day in and day out waiting for the last day of school and the beginning of summer vacation.
Update on writing a poem a day in 2010: Still chugging along. Will share a big bundle of poems in a post soonish. You can check the Poetic Asides blog for two that I've written in response to the weekly Wednesday Poetry Prompts.
Update on work: 2011 Writer's Market is off to the printer; blogging at Poetic Asides; writing the best WritersMarket.com newsletter ever each and every Friday; soliciting submissions for the 2011 Songwriter's Market; working (or finished helping out) on the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents and 2011 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market books--both soon to be followed by the 2011 Poet's Market and 2011 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market books. The fun never stops.
Update on living: Tammy, Reese, Baby Will and I are heading up to Tennessee to stay the night with my grandmother tomorrow night. Then, we'll be in Ohio for the weekend and Jonah's 7th birthday party. As some of you may remember, it was on Jonah's 6th birthday (before the birthday party) that I lost consciousness, quit breathing for several minutes, turned blue and very easily could've died (were it not for the cool head and amazing efforts of my wife) or suffered severe brain damage last year. As a result, I feel a weird combination of excitement and dread this weekend. The logical part of my brain knows there is nothing to fear; but the illogical part of my brain is the one pushing the panic button. Poor Jonah! I wish that event had happened on my birthday instead of his.
Also, talked with my storm chasing brother Simon this morning (for literally less than a minute). He has been chasing for the second season of his TV show, and he got three twisters on Monday. It's pretty cool that he's out there doing his thing.
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