There and back again, a Monkey’s tail

This is a joke you might not understand until you’re older, Monkey. For now, it’s one many of my friends will have a good chuckle at…

You’re asleep right now, in your own room, on the mattress from one of our sofa beds. A month ago right now, you and we were standing in the immigration line, waiting to enter your country of origin, and go to your new home. I can’t say “home” the way Mommy and I say “home”, because for you, this isn’t your home. Costa Rica is more your home than here.

You still look at video of our condo in Santa Ana, and you ask when are we going home. Because that’s what you know more of. We left Canada when you weren’t even a year old. You learned to walk in Costa Rica, to swim, to talk. Almost all of your friends are in Costa Rica, you went to school there. You ask for “schoolday”, and talk about your teachers.

But you came a long way to be able to say these things, and have these memories.

When we left Canada in 2008, you didn’t really know what was going on. You’d already travelled quite well considering you weren’t even a year old, having seen a few cities in the UK, out to Vancouver to visit with your grandparents, and out to Toronto to see your aunt, uncle, and Nana. You seemed to take all of that travelling very well, something that I know made me very proud.

Even more so was how quickly you seemed to adjust to living in a tropical country. You had to sleep in a playpen for the first month or so, while you waited for your crib to arrive. You had only a few books, a couple of toys. What TV you watched was in a language you’d never heard before. The floors were cool and hard, not the warm comfort you had known.

But there were things you liked: a pool nearby you could splash in regularly, it was always warm so you never felt cold, it was always green and lush, and everyone who saw you seemed to fawn over you — you were a magnet for most of our first year in Costa Rica.

Your first word was “kitty”, which you’d learned to say before we left Canada. Your next words were in Costa Rica. You’d started to get your teeth in Canada, you got most of them in Costa Rica. You learned to use your Jolly Jumper here in our house in Calgary, but you took your first steps near the pool in Santa Ana. You met, but probably don’t remember, the children of some of Mommy and my friends. You made your own friends, all of whom spoke Spanish. You still call them by their names: Mimi, Fria, Nando.

You went to school. Your teacher, Ily, taught your class. She spoke to you in English and Spanish. After a while, you spoke some Spanish, too. “Agua”, “vamos”, “mono”. You still say “sí”, instead of “yes”. You still want to have “schoolday”. You probably wonder where your uniform went.

You saw jungles. You saw oceans. You saw beaches. You saw volcanoes. You ate fruit fresh from trees and vines. You played in sand and the sea, and romped in the rain. From the back of our Suzuki, Dave, you saw both coasts, and the highest points in between. You mimicked monkeys, saw sloths, followed frogs, bagged butterflies. You saw wonder in almost everything.

You even became an official temporary resident of Costa Rica. We have the documentation to prove it.

Mommy and I are feeling guilty about bringing you back. You were really starting to enjoy things in Costa Rica. You still think of it as home — you asked me that just the other day, when you saw a video of a beach and monkeys. As you’ve noticed, there are no monkeys here.

You’ve come a long way, Monkey. You’ve had a such a unique start, and I really hope you can remember this as you grow up. I hope you can remember the things you did and saw, the people you met. I hope you can retain some of your Spanish, and I hope it helps you learn other languages. I hope.

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