The Longest Hour

Once a week Evie attends an hour-long Spanish class at Multilingual Chicago, a wonderful language facility here in the city.  Its technically a drop-off class, but its so far from home that I have to stick around.

The school has a lovely waiting area for parents and younger siblings.  While most of the other little kids seem content to color on the same chalkboard week after week, Mack was bored with it about 10 minutes into the first visit.  I can’t keep him cooped up anywhere for long before he’s making a mess and stealing toys from other kids. The hour can quickly turn into the longest, most stressful 60 minutes in my week.

So, rather than torturing my son, myself and the other parents, Mack, Vivian and I take a weekly stroll through the streets surrounding the school.  Chicago is a city of energetic and unique neighborhoods, and its exciting to step out of my comfort zone.

The school straddles Polish and Mexican neighborhoods, so I indulge one of my greatest joys in life: browsing through ethnic grocery stores.  Every week we visit a Polish market, where everyone speaks to me in Polish and I have to say “English?” over and over again.  I pick up kielbasa for Chris, European chocolates for the kids and butter from grass-fed cows for me.

And we always stop by the Mexican grocery store to buy authentic tortillas and Chihuahua cheese so Evie and Mack can have quesadillas for dinner.  The man behind the counter lets me practice Spanish with him: “Una libra de queso, por favor.”

While I’m ordering the cheese, Mack bounds from the stroller and runs for the aisle of cheap Mexican toys.  Every week he spends lots of time perusing the never-changing selection.

On lucky days, I treat him to one and he says, “Hooray!”

And my sweet little Vivian is always along for the ride, snug in her baby carrier and so happy to be alive and part of this world.  I’m so happy she’s here, too!

Before we know it, the hour has passed.  Evie puts on her chaqueta and zapatos and we head home to greet Chris and have quesadillas for dinner.  Its amazing how a simple shift in attitude and a look outside the front door can turn an hour of dread into an hour of fun!

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