To Judge or Not to Judge

We went to see Alicia en el Pais de Maravillas (Alice in Wonderland) today. It was really good and the kids understood everything. How exciting! We are going to see the Chilean National Ballet perform the Nutcracker in a few weeks too. Feels good to be getting some culture again.

Meanwhile, Jade is decidedly happier. “I like most things here, Mom.” she told me today. Nothing like friends to make things better. You know we wanted her to have friends, but the flip side of the coin is that now there is a whole new set of cultural differences to navigate. The girl who slept over last night, Alexandra, was the one who showed up three and a half hours late to the party. Why you might ask? Well, because her mom took her to the hairdresser to get her hair cut and blow dried straight, all to look pretty for our party! Now, I am not that comfortable with nine year-olds getting blow outs (especially when Jade asked me today if she can go to the hair dresser to get a blow out before the school play on Friday. What???? No!) and I also don’t see the sense in missing most of the party to get your hair done. Where is the logic?

To top it all of, we offered to drive Alexandra home either before or after the theater today and her mom seemed to really prefer that we drive her home later in the afternoon. OK, maybe she had stuff to do.  We can all relate. So now imagine our surprise when we found out over breakfast that it was Alexandra’s tenth birthday today! And she was spending it with us, people she basically just met yesterday. Her parents didn’t even call to wish her a happy birthday. Esteban and I really found this to be bizarre. We took her out to lunch and sang her happy birthday. But who leaves their kid with strangers on her tenth birthday? We even invited her mom to the lunch but she said that she didn’t want to leave the house because it was going to rain. What????!

Now I realize it’s dangerous to make judgements about cultural differences based on a few experiences. Maybe these are just individual differences. Still we weren’t quite sure what to do with any of it. I have to say that when you have kids and move to a foreign country, it’s a whole different ballgame. We have to make judgment calls all the time. What’s right for our kids? What’s not? And even though we might air on the side of not really understanding the situation, we are trying to do the best we can. Now Alexandra is a really sweet girl. She has great manners and is very polite. She and Jade played very creatively together. They want more sleepovers. Esteban and I are just hoping that we can find a way to always have them sleep at our house. We don’t really trust her parents’ judgment.

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