Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stealth Visit

This past weekend we fulfilled one of my long-time daydreams: ringing our in-laws' doorbell and announcing we'd come for a visit. I was minorly concerned that the shock might be TOO much, but after some satisfyingly dumbfounded surprise they handled it quite well.

The Slovak took a half day off work and we left right after K got out of school at lunchtime. We can make the trip in a fairly reliable 8 - 8.5 hours, which is far but not impossible. I have to reiterate once more that our daughter is a phenomenal traveler. She sleeps in the car and pretty much entertains herself while awake. We didn't even have to make any extra stops beyond what we would have made ourselves, anyway. She spent half the trip singing, "Babka, Dedo, Babka, Dedo..."

We're going back in two months for Christmas, but we haven't been to the Slovak's hometown or seen his father for over a year, so we thought an extra, surprise trip wouldn't be a bad idea. Babka and Dedo were excited to see us, by which I mainly mean their only grandchild. She got one of her birthday presents early and I only barely stopped them from giving her another. They still had to pick her up something at the toystore. It was sweet.

It was also sweet to see how easily K settled into a relationship with her grandparents: not just tolerating hugs but actually seeking them out. She would hold her arms out to Babka like, "You may pick me up and hug me now," and over Babka's shoulder I could see K's little smile that showed she was enjoying it. She was a little more reserved with Dedo, which seemed only natural as she's seen Babka as recently as July and Dedo not since her last birthday. She especially loved their dog, Sandra.

K was able to communicate better this time around, which was nice to see, at least on the level of individual words that Babka was able to understand. We still did some translating (English to Slovak, for Babka to understand) and also provided the sentences for K to say what she wanted in Slovak. Since K's method of speaking Slovak is currently to substitute Slovak nouns and occasional, haphazardly conjugated verbs into an underlying English grammar structure, she benefited from a little guidance on how to form a complete sentence. If she said something that Babka didn't understand, either Apo or I would tell her, "K, tell Babka 'Aj ja chcem pomoct' - 'prosim si dzusik' - 'kde je havo?'" -- short sentences that she understood, even though she couldn't come up with them herself. She was able to repeat whatever we suggested and her grandparents understood what she was saying. It seemed to work pretty well, actually.

The only bad thing about a fly-by visit like this is that we didn't have time to visit any of our friends while there. We saw some of them briefly, but otherwise wanted to spend as much time as possible just with the grandparents. We'll have time for visits in December, when we should stay for a week or so.

It was too short, but lots of fun. Nice hearing lots of Slovak again. K loved it. Looking forward to next time!

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