I pack Evan’s backpack and hope I remembered everything on the list. This week is my firstborn son’s very first day of school in a two-room schoolhouse on our small island in Indonesia. And I’d hate for my baby to not have his pencil box.
Many things in our lives are normal, like the fact that my son plays with Legos and my daughter wants to watch “Frozen” every day. But some of it feels, well, “Borneo normal.” Like the fact that recess for my son takes place in the school yard bordered by coconut trees, overlooking mosques, the Pacific Ocean, and the Borneo rainforest. And there’s an occasional monitor lizard skirting around the edges of the yard.
My son, who is already mostly fluent in Indonesian, will take more Indonesian lessons from a native speaker at his school. And the teachers are women who have left their kids and grandkids and homes in the States to serve and teach a bunch of MAF kids who hear an airplane flying overhead and all think it’s their daddy. And chances are, it is one of their daddies.
But what is very normal is that I’m both sad and excited as I get ready to watch my first son wave and walk into his classroom. I hope he remembers to be respectful of his teacher and kind to his friends, and ready with his imagination to explore new worlds. Then I’ll pick up my toddler, grab the hand of my 4-year-old daughter, and return to our home with our own monitor lizard hiding somewhere in the yard.