Monday, August 31, 2015

And then there were three....

It started with an email.
We were all minding our own business watching some TV and having chill family time while multitasking on our phones (of course) and I saw an email from my daughter's tennis coach (paraphrase privilege here):

WANTED: Host family for a Muslim female student from Kazakhstan. Her original  host family didn't work out as they have six cats and this student has a cat phobia. 
She plays tennis and will attend our high school next year. Arrives next week! 

We went on to read her sweet bio about how much she has always dreamed of coming to America and has a brother and sister and loves hanging out with her friends...and we were hooked. Convincing my husband was another matter. 

You see I have this habit of wanting something very badly, wearing him down until I get it, then flitting off to the next thing. I admit this freely but this time I knew I had to carry my part of the bargain. For three days we negotiated. It wasn't that he didn't want her or like the idea of a foreign exchange student. Far from it! We have traveled around the world with our kids since they were young and thought this would always be something we would do but the timing was never right. It still wasn't but that didn't stop me from trying: 

HIM: You have to commit to getting her places and not calling me last minute that you have some work meeting.
ME: OK! (this was gonna be hard but I committed) 
HIM: Where is she gonna sleep (we have two bedrooms and an office and two teens of our own until child A goes off to college in a month).
ME: Oh I'll figure it out. 
HIM: No, you will have it worked out before she comes.
ME: Hmmmmm....

Meanwhile the clock was ticking. I convinced the kids to switch rooms, promised I would be more available, husband agreed, and we started Operation Diana (her name). The next few days were a whirlwind of emails with the agency, a home visit (we passed) and making room for this stranger. We need not have worried. When she got out of the van in our driveway she shyly smiled and without hesitation gave me the first hug. 

So far it's been a smooth transition. Sure we ask her a million questions a day about her home country.  She complies patiently. I tell her things she already knows (her English is amazing). Really, she is just like any other teenager in that she has an iPhone (6.0 my own daughter pointed out right away) and likes talking to her friends back home. She sleeps in and has quirky eating habits like my teens. She loves our dog who jumps and licks. The main difference so far is that she is a killer cleaner, a great cook, and helps with chores and even vacuumed my couch! 

As Joy our foreign exchange liaison reminds us: "Treat her like family, not a guest."

No problem. She's in! 

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