In case you haven’t been following—we recently had two exchange students from China stay with us for two weeks. They left this past Sunday.
There were 36 students in all. When they got here, they were paired up and sent to live with host families during the evenings and weekends. During the day, the group would meet at a local high school and either have classes or take trips to local tourist places. They went to Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC and, uh…a goat farm.
On one afternoon the students were taken bowling. The host families were invited to come along.
Ah! Perfect! The students were staying in my house in the evenings and Nephew14 was staying during the day. For whatever reason Nephews don’t like to hang out all day cleaning houses, so I had to come up with something for him to do while he was here. Bowling sounded great.
We got to the bowling alley early—Boy8, Boy10, Nephew14, and me. The students weren’t there yet and we were the first host family to arrive. We ordered some bowling alley pizza and waited for the other families to show up.
Finally, the students were there…but no other host families.
My exchange students were going to be the only students with the wackadoodle host family that showed up at the bowling alley–the overbearing Mom with her kids tagging along. What an embarrassment to them. If it had been just me and my kids, I’d have slipped away before they saw us, but I didn’t think I could get Nephew14 out of there. He was still eating his bowling alley pizza.
The students didn’t see us at first. The bowling alley had pre-entered the students’ names onto the score boards and the chaperones were releasing the students off the bus lane by lane. It was all very orderly.
Until all of the students were in their lanes. And then…chaos.
Apparently, none of the students had ever bowled before. And here they were—in America, wearing silly shoes, brightly colored bowling balls in hand with those upright pins mocking them at the end of the alley. Down with the pins!
All at the same time, the students began rolling the balls down the alleys. They had no concept of the rules. No concept of “each person goes twice,” no concept of “wait for the pins to be cleared before rolling a second time.” Just fling the balls down the alley one right after the other and try to knock over those taunting pins.
One ball got stuck in the gutter and Justin (of course it was Justin) took it upon himself to retrieve it. He went past the line–past the line, people!–and slipped and slid his way down the alley until the guys who worked at the bowling alley had to come and shoo him away.
Throughout all this, I was holding back and considering our getaway as soon as Nephew14 was done eating his bowling alley pizza. And that’s when John noticed us.
As soon as he saw us, his face brightened and he rushed over to greet us. “Hello Miss Jackie! Will you play with me?” And then Justin noticed us, too. He gave us a big grin and came to greet us as well.
They most certainly did not perceive us as the wackadoodle mom and kids who embarrassed them at the bowling alley. Instead, they were happy we were there. Awww. And I’m glad to say, one other family finally showed up, which was a relief to me.
Later in the week, after their trip to the goat farm, I picked up the students from the school. Usually they were already in the building but this time they were still on the bus. When they caught sight of me and my kids walking across the parking lot, they flung their arms out of the bus windows and hollered, “Hello, Miss Jackie!” Big waves, big smiles.
As soon as they got off the bus, they rushed to us and showed us the ½ gallon of goat’s milk they had bought at the goat farm. Justin said, “The man told me this was the best milk in the store.” Of course he would want the best milk in the store. Justin is a self-admitted perfectionist. (MrPerfect is part of his email address.) “We will all try the milk at home.”
And we did. At first, it was ok, but then…yuck! Aftertaste. Darling Husband later told me it tasted like licking a goat. I’m not sure whether or not John and Justin liked it because we were all being very polite about the milk. We didn’t want to tell them how yucky it was and they told us everything was delicious. Everything. “Very good. Delicious,” was said at every meal.
Darling Husband told our kids that they should learn from John and Justin and no matter what we give them they have to say, “Very good. Delicious.” My friend Bridgette pointed out, “See! Proof that starving children in China are grateful for their food!” Well, John and Justin were hardly starving, but it does make for a fun joke. And it did teach my kids to be a bit more gracious about stuff they don’t like.
And what have I learned from Justin and John? How to greet people. In the book “How to Make Friends and Influence People,” the author advises the reader to be interested in people and show that you’re happy to see them. John and Justin were perfect examples of that admonition. You can’t help but respond in a positive way when someone is so clearly happy to see you, even if they make you drink gross goat milk.