We returned from our vacation in FL accompanied by our grandson, age 10 next month. This is his first extended excursion away from his family so this month-long visit is a grand adventure for us all. After a few difficult days of missing his family, especially his Mom, and adjusting to a new time zone he's now off expanding his horizons in this land were kids speak a language not his own. My Honey is gone for five days on business so I'm a single grandparent and felt daunted by the prospect.
Two boys upstairs in our apartment building became his first playmates and he's worked out some ways of negotiating the language hurdle. The older boy studies English at school and can do fine if speech is slow. The younger one has very little English so when playing games on their iPads they downloaded a translation app to talk back and forth. Good idea!
Yesterday we went to a beach with plenty of kids but no English speakers. My grandson, on his own, came up with a few clever ways to engage and end up playing with the locals. He was flying his uber cool bat kite and, when other kids looked interested, he helped them fly it as well. A steady light breeze off the water made it easy. But the kayak rides topped that. He reveled for awhile in being captain of his own boat and, after paddling around himself, he soon drew other eager young sailors for guided rides, either pulled along or as passengers. No surf in the Adriatic and shallow waters even 30 feet from shore makes it possible and safe. And later, his pump action squirt guns scored big with the boys his age.
We had a grand day topped off with pizza and his other favorite local dish, arrosticini, at a restaurant with a play area. As soon as he headed over to play, a boy joined him for see-saw rides and swing competitions with accompanying hoots. Can you tell he didn't want to take time out for photos?
He stepped cautiously, even reluctantly, at first but now I watch his confidence grow, his stride surer as he succeeds. Our neighbor and friend next door introduced my grandson to a boy who lives just one street over and who wants to practice his fledgeling English. My grandson came back from a visit to his house breathless: "I met his family and his mother invited me to come for pizza tomorrow evening the very first time she met me. Wow!"
As he told his mother on Skype later: "I'm really expanding my social network!" Indeed he is. I'm proud of him but more importantly, he's proud of himself.