There are so many things I love about this country. I love that we live in a true democracy whose establishments are pretty respected. I love that people can have a great quality of life if they really want it. And up until recently, I liked feeling safe and secure—but that has all changed with the recent shootings and killing sprees that have been increasing, and it terrifies me, especially when it comes to the safety in my kids' schools. I shudder to just think about some deranged gunman attacking a school, something that would never happen in my native country Venezuela (at least it never did before Chavez took power). During my time, schools were sacred, with an aura that protected them against delinquents and criminals.
Another thing that I loved about my school days: how easy it was to make friends. My older son only has one good friend, who he actually doesn't get to see much because his parents haven't stopped the fights that started when they were getting divorced. You can't take his little friend anywhere because you never know how what kid of legal drama his dad will start. And it goes without saying, I can't let my son go to his house either. I've had to deal with many difficult situations trying to explain to my son that his friend has lived first-hand the traumatic experience of domestic violence and because of that he has to keep his distance.
I feel like sometimes it's not easy to cultivate those long-lasting friendships between children, and even less so between families. I'm not sure if it's because I constantly on the run, but the whole thing with these "playdates" drives me crazy. Making a date three or four weeks in advance so that kids can play? In my day, we'd get together and that was that. Or we'd beg our moms to let us go to each other's houses. I'm telling you, every time I get a text from another mom asking to set up an appointment to play Wii for, like, 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on Sunday, November 15, 2018, I ask myself why it's so hard to set up a date for next weekend.
So much formality in this country. It makes me wonder sometimes if my kids will be able to forge the type of ever-lasting friendships that we had growing up in Latin America. My friends today are the same ones who went to school with me at Francisco Fajardo school. Gerardo Fontes and Rafael Lastra know what I'm talking about. And an "Amen!" from my sister Catherine Jones.
Cathy and I met when we still hadn't even gotten our adult teeth! We banded together during those difficult adolescent years, and together we tortured our parents. We were the dynamic duo, two girls as mischievous as we were honest—which is why we never got away with our mischief, because one of us always came forward and confessed!
Catherine and I have lived through everything together: first kisses, our quince años, starting college, loves and broken hearts, and our first jobs. Triumphs and losses—literally through thick and thin. To me, Cathy is a sister. I love her and would be able to give up a kidney for her, just like I would for Omar, my brother. Her parents are my family. Because I couldn't lawfully declare them my aunt and uncle, I made them something even more binding: I named them the padrinos to my son—which for any Venezuelan is a sacred link. The same with Cathy herself, who was my maid of honor at my wedding and my son Samuel's madrina, because I know that if someday I can't be there, there will be no one better to take care of him.
The trust I have in her is never-ending, and so is the love I have for her. And this sisterhood was born in the classrooms and will last forever, I'm sure. My kids consider her their aunt and I make sure they always love and respect her.
Hopefully the educational system in this country will let my kids find their true friends, just as my school days did for me. And that in the future, they can say that the best thing about their school days was finding that true friendship, just like it happened for me with their Tía Cathy.
What was your favorite part about school? Tell us in the comments below!