For a long time there has been loose talk about putting Elias in school during this season in French Polynesia.
For one reason or another, the situation was never quite right. But then, here in Raivavae, the situation was suddenly so right that we found ourselves driving to the local primary school one Monday morning to drop off both Elias and Eric.
The setup is that Eric, who is four, has never been to school of any kind. Elias has been to both pre-school and primary school in Hobart, but he tends to get nervous around groups of kids when we’re traveling. It’s easy to be shy when you don’t speak the language, after all.
Neither of the boys speak French, and we expected there to be no English speakers on the staff of the school. Clearly, we were throwing them into the deep end. And we didn’t know what to expect. After we met with the director of the school and he assigned the boys to classes, we dropped them off and made tracks.
(Eric, on being settled into his new class: “Mom, you’re staying, right?”)
That first day, Alisa and I reveled in the hours of kid-free time that separated us from the return of the kids on the school bus. Every fifteen minutes or so, throughout the day, we wondered aloud just what the hell might be going on. And…when they got home, all reports were glowing. Both boys loved it unreservedly.
So that’s our routine for the short time we remain here – the boys take the bus at 0730 and come back at 1530, tired and full of stories. Whenever we press too hard for details of their day, Elias says, “Mom, Dad. I DON’T SPEAK FRENCH. And they DON’T SPEAK ENGLISH. I dunno what’s going on.”
There was one fairly wicked twist.
Both boys brought home colds on Tuesday, and Eric had an episode of croup Wednesday night. It was the full one in the morning croup-y drama – he was in obvious distress and asking for help, but we couldn’t get him to a doctor – there is none on the island.
So we played our ace in the hole in the shape of a satphone call to my sis the pediatrician (mad thanks, Jenny!) and she talked us through the steps of albuterol/predisone/get the epi-pen ready.
All was quickly well.
But we’d be happy not to have any more scenes like that in the relative middle of nowhere.
The next day, when both boys were judged to be too sick to go to school, the bus drove all the way out on the quai, looking for them.
How could you not love that?
Meet the crew of Galactic: Mike and Alisa Litzow and their sons Elias and Eric. “When we left Alaska to sail to Australia with our toddler for crew, we thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. But then we had our second child, and bought our second boat, and sailed across the Pacific a second time. We’ve been living aboard for seven years now. Sometimes we wonder how long we’ll keep at it, but all we know for sure is that the end doesn’t seem to be in sight just yet.” Follow their story at http://thelifegalactic.blogspot.com