On a Saturday in the middle of October, all of the students and their host families spent the day together in the countryside, or “campo”. We watched Miguel and Juani cook paella and cut fruit for sangria.
What stuck out to me the most, though, was watching the children and their interaction with the adults.
Kids of all ages played in a nearby river and successfully captured dozens of slimy frogs while the Americanas were sufficiently grossed out. Their parents laughed and gave them praise for catching so many. Not only did the adults encourage their children’s exploring, they also jumped rope and taught us traditional Spanish jump rope songs. One host father even brought balloons to make balloon animals to entertain the children. My padre, Antonio, taught everyone how to make a dog, to the screaming delight of the children. There were green dogs, pink crowns and blue swords flying around everywhere.
Trujillanos seem to know and live by the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” They focus much of their attention on their children, but not necessarily only their own. The culture emphasizes the importance of future generations. This was abundantly apparent to me on this particular day. I was surrounded by people of all ages and their loving interactions with the children. I saw people play with children who weren’t even in their distant families, but caring for them just the same.
Spanish parents have an incredible way of allowing their children to be independent, but also caring for them in a very special way. Almost every week the kids spend time with their aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, grandparents, etc., confirming that the children are very important to everyone in the family. Every Friday, my hermanita goes to her aunt’s house after should to spend the night. They eat lunch, dinner and breakfast together as well as play games and watch movies. She says she is her “second mom” and loves to spend time with her.
Every day, there is an overwhelming amount of love that fills the air of my Spanish home. My padres not only have two kids, but they now have “adopted” a 20-year-old Americana who will always consider them family. It will be devastatingly sad to leave them in 5 weeks, but knowing I will see them again one day gives me an incredible sense of happiness.