Sunday, August 13, 2023

Should I be worried?

We had a Spanish girl staying with us for three weeks. Since she was 18, Charlotte has au-paired off and on for Sara and her little sister Paula and their cousin Eva in Madrid. When she first met Sara, she was 10 and her parents wanted an English-speaking au pair to help her with school. As the years went by, Sara got too old to need a babysitter but our two families had become entwined, culminating in us finally flying down last year to meet them for the first time. 

They had brought Charlotte food parcels when she was isolating in her flat in Madrid with covid at Xmas 2020, they had invited her to their house for her 21st when covid restrictions had meant she couldn't see any of her family, and she had visited them most summers becoming more like an older sister to her two Spanish sisters. 

So when their mum tentatively asked me last summer over dinner if I would let Sara come and stay so she could live in an English-speaking house for a few weeks, I was more than happy to accept. She's 15 now, and so is Anna, so I knew it would be good for both of them as Anna has chosen to do Spanish at Gymnasium too.

On arrival early July we thought a few board games would be a good way to break the ice. The kids had only met her once over dinner last year in Madrid and she seemed quite shy. Articulate would be a good one to help her with English, we thought. (You get a word and have to describe it to your partner and they get to guess which word you are describing.)

Léon was first up, describing for Anna. He drew the word 'van'. His description: 'A vehicle that is often white and used by bad people who want to kidnap small children'. I was somewhat surprised that his go-to use for a van was kidnapping rather than say deliveries or being used by a worker of some sort such as a gardener or plumber, but Anna guessed it immediately and the game continued.

The following day, Amaia, who had been out with friends on our first games evening, joined in. By some coincidence she too drew the card 'van', this time describing for Sara. She had neither been there the night before, nor heard of our game, so I was more than surprised when she started immediately with: 'it's like a car but bigger, people use them for kidnapping kids!' 

Am I living in a much more sinister world than I realise or are my kids all just quite disturbed?

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