How many cookies does it take to get home?

I haven’t written anything here since we got back from Rome. We have been busy with the every day nitty gritty, and I have been feeling uninspired. Hopefully with this post I’ll get my grove back!

Recently there has been a change along the route we walk to and from school, and it has caused me to reflect on the comfort I take in our routines. We see the same people each day between our apartment and school. I know each guardian and each fruit vendor, and I find it very comforting to see the same people every day. On our block we always see our building guardian and the guard for the home furnishings store. Across the street is our favorite fruit seller who always gives the kids a free banana, and around the corner is the street guardian that Ellie plays chase with. Each day on our way to pick up Patrick she eagerly waits for him to see her and runs gleefully down the block as he “chases” her, while I following behind. He always plays the game with her, and he never lets her run too far away from me. He also always respects her “personal space” bubble, and doesn’t push her boundaries, which I really appreciate. The game also gets us down the block twice as fast as we would go without it! That’s a win in my book!

The next block is the “young” guardian who has learned from my kids that their “personal space bubble” is bigger than he would have thought. (Side note: my kids get touched frequently here in Morocco, much more than they would in the states, and more frequently than they would like. It’s completely culturally appropriate and normal, but feels foreign to my kids since it doesn’t align with the cultural norms where we are from. I’ll write a whole separate post on this sometime soon. It definitely deserves more attention and thought than a few lines here!)

Next on our walk is the car dealership where Ellie likes to climb the steps and jump off into my arms, with the encouragement of the dealership security guard. This little stop is what got me thinking about our route, and the people along it. There is a new security guard at the dealership and I’m still adjusting to seeing someone new on our walk. This small change has got me thinking about my expectations for each day, and the simple pleasure I take in knowing that I will see the exact same people, and have basically the exact same interactions with them each day. I take comfort in this sense of routine, and the sameness of each interaction.

We take the same route each day because as humans we are creatures of habit, and we like the comfort of a routine and knowing exactly what will come next. As an expat I think I take particular comfort in this level of routine, because I don’t have to think too hard about it. Most of my daily interactions, with people other than my immediate family and friends, happen in a language that I am not fluent in. They also frequently involve social customs and norms that are not native to me. I can (and have) learned some of them, but they are not ingrained in my psyche in the same way that my native culture is. These thoughts are a big part of why we wanted to give our children an international experience, and upbringing. I want them to have a less ridged and (hopefully) less ingrained since of cultural norms than my own, and we hope that this experience will expand their acceptance of people from different cultures and customs. It has certainly expanded my own acceptance and knowledge in ways that I find both challenging and amazing. I want for Patrick and Ellie a flexibility of cultural, like poking a perfectly kneaded pizza dough, and watching it spring back. I want them to be able to fill that dent and bounce back, because a variety of cultures, traditions, and customs have been kneaded into their own psyche.

After collecting Patrick we reverse course and see the same people on the way home. The only difference is that now we have snacks, and in case you are wondering it takes 4 cookies per child to walk home. A small price to pay for not listening to the of of them whine, or having to carry Ellie!

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