Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Brazilians

7 months ago, right before we moved into our new house, I took my daughter for our daily walk to the playground at our apartment complex. I saw a mom and dad taking pictures with their son and daughter so I offered to take one for them. My daughter who was only a year and a half at the time was immediately smitten with the mother and the kids. She grabbed them by the hands and started pulling them around the playground. It made me a little uneasy since we didn't know them but obviously I stayed right next to them and started talking.

 I did not find out until months later that this was this family's very first day in the United States. They told me they were from Brazil and because I do speak a minuscule amount of Portuguese, I was able to make a connection with them. I only learned Portuguese because my friend Shannon who just moved to Chile dated a Brazilian when we were like 15 and he taught us a bit of Portuguese. I do not think this connection would be made had it not been those few little phrases I learned so many years ago. So much can be derived from those phrases and I was able to pull them apart and plug in the words when necessary. The family was very nice and my daughter loved their kids so we decided to meet the next day at the play ground at the same time. As it turned out Priscilla did not understand the agreement we had made but we ended up finding each other again anyhow. Over the course of a week we spent a substantial amount of time with this family and every day I learned just how little English they spoke. The children who were 7 and 6 years old did not speak one word of English, the father spoke VERY little and the mother, Priscilla, spoke enough for us to communicate VERY BASIC sentences. She smiled a lot and said 'yes' a lot which I just assumed she really liked what I had to say! The more time that passed I realized that she didn't have a clue what I was talking about! Though with the aid of Google translate and Google images we were able to exchange simple ideas. I would usually go on youtube every morning to learn how to say a few things so we could talk a little more.

Come on-there's a lot to see and do before it snows.
 I felt terrible when I had to tell her we would be moving soon which I tried to translate into Portuguese but-she didn't seem to mind-she'd smile and say 'ah'. I didn't think she understood, naturally I assumed a more devastated response, so one day I went to her apartment and told them to get in my car and I was taking them to my apartment...can you imagine what they were thinking...but I wanted to show her pictures of my new house and for her to see the boxes. I could tell the moment she saw everything packed up that it broke her heart. I realized that we (me and my 1 year old) were the ONLY people in America that they knew. This was one of the reasons I did not leave my apartment so easily. Very quickly I became attached to this darling little family. Even though we could barely communicate with each other I was totally in my element helping them navigate the area, filling out college applications, reading their documents for them and telling them all about the greatest state in this country. I'm glad they fell into my hands and not some location loathing Michigander. My daughter is demonstrating sound qualities of an Ambassador at large, I am finally able to fill the shoes of a tour guide or rather a 'smitten with the mitten' docent, and my husband is enjoying the international expressions of Priscilla's husband Marcelo.

I think about myself- the worlds biggest adult baby, and how I had the most difficult time moving to a new place in the same county. I know that they had a difficult time adjusting-how could they not? But it was so delightful for me to watch the children pick up on things I would say to we would pick up on things the mother would say to them. What I loved was that since her children (6 & 7) didn't speak English and my 1 year old was not yet speaking more than a handful of words-there was really NO language barrier. I always thought 'how neat, my little girl doesn't even know that they don't speak English!' It has been the most amazing thing to watch this family develop here in every way. The most incredible element is how our children who have a large age gap are parallel in developing their verbal skills. It is so cool to see this happen. Every time we see them my daughter is speaking so much more and Priscilla's kids are quickly becoming proficient English speakers. As a linguist this has been one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. This is ART to me.

This family celebrated my 29th birthday with me, we introduced them to the 4th of July in the most traditional way by taking them to a parade and having a cookout in our back yard, celebrated our daughters birthdays and we decided to host Thanksgiving so that we could show them what this American holiday is all about- which easily became the best Thanksgiving I've ever had and my family agreed. We would have spent Christmas with them had they not been in Disney World. I saw them last night after my massage and our visits keep getting easier and funnier. I might have to do an entire post about the funny things they the time Priscilla had me thinking her husband had Lupus disease-but she was actually just trying to tell me that they had 'icy hot' bandaids if I needed one. We are getting to know them slowly and we are starting to piece together their story-although there is a few things we cannot figure the way that they got here! And 6 months ago they moved to a new apartment after only 3 months in their first home-we could not for the life of us figure out why until she told me the reason this week!

I have only known this family a short amount of time and they are quickly becoming some of the closest friends we have. They are so thoughtful, sweet, funny and a true joy in our lives. Actually their whole family (whom we've obviously never met)  frequently send gifts to my daughter from Brazil and emails to me.

 This family is gift from heaven to us.

Anyhow, I felt like I needed to introduce you to my Brazilians since they are part of our family and lives now and subsequently will be a part of all our holidays and events now.


  1. Aww, how lovely and how fate like that you met them in the park, just as it was meant to be! You've obviously developed a wonderfully close bond and it must be great to have them in your life and learn about their culture. I would love to have more multi cultural friends!xx

    1. Well I know it's not very exotic but you do have at least 1 American friend!

      I feel the same about having more friends from other cultures- SO I've signed up to be a host family...they're in the process of setting me up with a Russian girl! I'm so excited but a little nervous- I hope we clic!
      I haven't exactly told Joel yet....

  2. Great story. What a cute family they are too.

    FYI...I just met a Brazilian at random too in San Francisco and her name was Priscilla as friends and I are already planning to visit her in Brazil.

    LOVE LOVE the picture of Zeeva pulling the family around! She's a little leader that one!

    1. Yea, I think I saw the video was that the hilarious girl video taping the drive down the curved street?

      Please tell me you've seen that show "an idiot abroad" I love the episode where he goes to brazil!!


I'd really love to hear your thoughts! Comments will post after moderation.

You might also like....