Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

Death of a sandbox

When we moved here, our block of housing was barely finished, and the landscaping wasn't finished at all. There were wide swaths of sand everywhere and sand became the bane of my existence. It got everywhere - in our house, all over our car, on the patio, and it filled anything we left outside - especially during the winter when it was often quite windy.

But there was a happy side to the piles of sand: my girls and all the other neighborhood kids had access to the largest "sandbox" they'd ever seen. And they quickly set up materials for making the most of it.

At times it was a little annoying to turn the corner to our street and come face to face with an extensive sand ghetto with buckets, shovels, pails, and, yes, an honest-to-goodness trash can strewn about. But the kids LOVED it. Every afternoon, the sand provided hours of play for Miriam and Magdalena and their friends. They made sand sculptures, pretended to cook, wrote their names with sticks, and even mixed sand with water and dribbled it on their arms to make patterns with "sand henna." That last one was tons of fun to clean up, by the way. But it was worth it. They were having so much fun, after all, and hardly anything is better for a kid than extended, unstructured play out of doors.

A month or two ago, a dump truck came and delivered a few piles of fresh, new sand. What a heyday that was!

Then one day, the diggers came to spread the sand out. And when the diggers come, you know grass will follow soon behind. At least that's how it works over here.

Sure enough, the new sand was soon smoothed out and clumps of grass were planted in what used to be the neighborhood sand box. The kids were told to stay out of the area so the grass could grow. It was a sad day. The children were at once listless and restless during outdoor play. They didn't know quite what to do with themselves. Eventually, hopscotch, bike riding, and various nonsense chase-based games took a tentative place in the neighborhood kid play scheme.

Although I mourned the loss of the sandbox for its entertainment value, I was thrilled to notice that less and less sand was getting into things. Our house was less gritty and I didn't find small piles of sand sprinkled throughout our rooms like I used to. There was a little residual sand left on the edges of the road that still caused some problems, but then a street sweeper came and cleaned even that up.

Now, all that's left of the sandy wonderland is a small patch of leftovers next to the curb across the street. And guess what?

The kids totally play in it.

Fear of moving

Bilingual education