Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Planes, trains and twins!

Tori and I had the strange experience of being the only people home over a recent weekend. Phil was away as were the twins. Phil is often away. Tori is often away too. But the twins? For a long time, they were the ones waiting at home but not anymore. Adam took the train to Vienna for a four day drama workshop and Royce flew to Warsaw for a middle school track meet. Once both twins were away, I cried and cried, missing the days of them holding our hands to cross the street, the excitement of taking off in a plane with them, the travel journals we used to keep. (thanks to Annie for kind emails during the crisis). Now they were doing all that on their own. Well, maybe not the journal part. Remarkably, Tori weathered the separation dry-eyed, with even the smallest hint of a smile.
It is a fun aspect of our lives here; the travel associated with our international school. Last year, the twins went on a school trip to Berchtesgarden, the south Tirolean bit of German, known for beautiful lakes, mountains, salt mines and Hitler’s Eagles Nest. This year, Tori went to northern Italy for a weeklong school trip. She travels to math competitions (this year Toulouse) as well. But the real travel, the almost every weekend travel, comes with sports. Why? Well, our school competes in a league with other international schools; the closest are in Zurich, Vienna and Frankfurt. One of the furthest; the Hague. Yes, we took a 15 hour train trip (one way) for a swim meet!

Typically, students have to be in sixth grade to travel with sports teams. Tori has been traveling with three sports for three years but the twins are new to it. They are sixth graders this year with Adam on the volleyball and Royce on the track team. Both were on the swim team and traveled with me to meets, but this was not nearly as exciting as travel with no parent on the bus, train or plane. It’s amazing how fast they got used to the new routine; sports bag, suitcase, passport, go.
When the kids go to another school, they room with families. Typically, they house with another kid from our school and stay with a family for a few nights. The kids eat with the family, make a little conversation, learn a little about their lives. They always report back on the nationality of the family and the languages they speak at home. One time, Tori was staying with a kid from our school who only spoke Russian. The family she stayed with only spoke Spanish. Except for their daughter who spoke English. Tori said the whole thing was great. Why? The Spanish dad worked at a chocolate factory and brought home samples! We’ve enjoyed hosting kids from all over the world, including a boy from Vienna, who was a twin and born at the same hospital in Maryland as our twins!
We have a “travel” phone that kids get to take with them and I long thought this was the excitement of the travel for the twins. Typically, Tori goes away and never contacts us. I mean never. Once she was gone for a three day tennis tournament without a single message. Royce and I assumed she had lost her phone, was upset about the loss and then played poorly. But no, she won all her matches and was too busy and excited to call. The twins, perhaps from seeing the no message stress up close and personal, are better at keeping in touch. Royce’s Warsaw family did not have wifi but she quickly figured out which cafes and restaurants did. She would buy a small drink and send a message and go back to run a race. Adam does even better. The softball (Tori) and the volleyball (Adam) teams often travel together. Adam reports  via texts and calls on all volleyball points scored and then recounts Tori’s games too. He basically our man on the inside, reporting on who Tori is talking to or sitting with if he gone over all sports. A little personal interest story along with all that sport stats is nice.


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