From the time Kason was born I was a little finicky that I didn’t want people to say his name was “Jason with a K.” I don’t know why, but it was just a feeling that I had. Well, now that we are here, we have had to use this expression more times than I can count. Kason is a hard name for Latinos to figure out. After we were here for three weeks I finally saw the name “Jason” written on a class list and it was not what I had expected… Jeisson:) So maybe when we return to the US we will have a Keisson on our hands.
In the beginning Kason was the least excited to make this plunge and move our family. I get it… he was the most tied in to friends, sports, and being comfortable. We definitely wanted to give him space to have his feelings. The things I wanted least for him to constantly hear from others were “this is going to be great and this will be the best thing for you.” I know others would tell him this in attempt to encourage him, but it just felt like we wanted him to be met where he was and didn’t want feelings pushed on him. It was an answer to prayer when two weeks before we left Kason said “Mom, I am actually getting excited to make this move.” Now, I knew this didn’t mean he was 100% all in, but he was further along than he had been… and that was an answer to prayer!
Since we have been here, Kason has done so well. When we were in the US and working on Spanish, Kason would complain and request to just learn the language when we get to Colombia. We frequently ended our Spanish lessons not feeling like we had accomplished what we set out to accomplish. With that being said, about three days after we were here Kason said, “I just wish I could speak more Spanish” and he quickly recognized the irony. He has been working hard and trying to learn, and because of his age he is the easiest for our non-teacher minds to teach. Mark has been working with him in the afternoons and Kason is quickly surpassing his parents:)
Our first outing, on the day after we arrived, was with a family that had spent 8 years in the US and had returned to Colombia two years ago. We were walking through the market buying fresh fruits and veggies and then over to the central park in town. The center park isn’t full of open green space as you might assume. It is a big open area with brick and pavement surface where vendors are often selling goods, and at the top of the park is the big catholic church that you often see in photos of La Mesa. The park was packed that day because it was during a two week vacation from school. And there was a soccer game going on that day! In front of the big cathedral was a huge screen with the game projected on it. There was a sea of yellow cheering on the team. There also happen to be a funeral procession going on. In the multitude of people, our group got slightly split up. Mark and I had Kellen, and Kason and Taylor had walked ahead to sit on the cathedral steps and watch the game that was being projected. Taylor, in normal fashion, got right up in others’ personal space and sat very close to the group. Kason, on the other hand, sat a few feet away, allowing his normal North American space. What Kason didn’t see was the pallbearers, holding a huge casket, coming right for him. I tried yelling at him but we were 20 feet apart and nothing could surpass the horns hooting and fans hollering in response to the game. These men had been walking a distance while carrying this casket and weren’t going to move or slow down for Kason… I watched from afar, helpless. When the casket was about 2 feet from his face, Kason changed his gaze from the game to the large force coming his way. He reacted immediately and crawled up and out just dodging this near collision. When the processional ended, and we were united again, he was a little shaken by the near encounter. Now it is easy to laugh at him almost getting plowed over by a casket.
The futbol stadium is near us and Kason quickly found out that he could practice up there through the recreation department four days per week. This isn’t really a team that travels and plays games, it is more of a camp style format. They do drills and scrimmages every day. This is a great thing for Kason to get exercise and he also gets a new set of skills. One could say (or Mark often says) Kason hasn’t broken out of his Forest Gump braces quite yet and so it is fun to see him running more and trying to become more natural at it. The first day that wasn’t happening though! As we have spent more time here, Kason has gravitated from futbol to balencesto (basketball). He enjoys playing on the team here and often gets to practice with a mixed group, all the way up to 9th graders. In Colombia they don’t play much of his favorite sport, baseball.
Let me give a little background… back in Kansas, Kason played sports with his class from Hesston. It would be fair to say Kason is in the smaller half of him teammates – he has some sturdy teammates. When we go play other towns in Kansas we often get the question “what do you feed your kids over there in Hesston?” We love having this intimidation factor because truth be told, our “big guys” are some of our best and more athletic players. Not often to the big guys on the team make up your middle infield like ours:) I’m sure Kason (like others) will change over the next few years as the boys grow taller and mature physically, but for now we enjoy where we are at.
Here in Colombia though, Kason is the thickest kid there is! In his class of 5th graders, soon to be 6th graders, he is the 4th from tallest but wins in the “sturdiness” category. On the soccer field he takes the cake. The clumsy thick white boy stands out! It is funny to see. But this next story is the best… one of the drills the boys had to do was get with a partner, get on his back, do 5 squats, jump off your partner, run around a cone and come back and then switch… get on your partner’s back, do 5 squats and run…. they had to do this 5 times. Guess what… Kason can do a squat!! However, we immediately felt bad for Kason’s partner. His partner could barely lift Kason on to his back, but got through the first set. It wasn’t long before we were dying laughing because Kason’s partner slowly crumbled to his knees and couldn’t get one rep in. This attribute of Kason’s has come in handy the past few days as he has carried his siblings on his back in attempt to help them get back up the hill when they are exhausted.
Kason was our first to go off with some friends without us going with him. There are a few older guys (older than Kason… in their mid 20s) in the congregation that have come to the house several times to play card games. One day they wanted to go play soccer, but Mark and I needed to be at the house to watch my grandfather’s funeral via WhatsApp. Kason decided to make plans without us and go anyway. He loved having the added responsibility of navigating this on his own. Since then Kason has navigated transportation all over La Mesa by himself. We send him to practice on the other side of town on his own, he takes his scooter or rides the bus and then returns when it is time. The first time we did this, the futbol stadium was a ways from the house, so we dropped him off with money to bring the bus back. The bus was to pick him up about only about 2 blocks from the field and then passes right in front of the house. That didn’t matter… this mama was full throttle tears as we walked away. Mark kept encouraging it and so I walked away trying to get my act together. The practice was to end at 4 and when 4:35 rolled around and I looked at my watch and Kason wasn’t home yet, so the panic set in. I was just beginning to tell Mark that he needed to head out to find him. Walk down so you can look in every bus that passes…. on and on… and then a bus stopped, Kason got out, walked in as chipper as ever, and tears began streaming once again. My baby was home safe! And I wasn’t sure I liked the new chapter of freedom that he was growing into – time slow down!
We have seen a lot of great things out of Kason and some not so great, but the maturity, compassion and responsibility are becoming a more predominate characteristic of his and for that we are thankful! For being the kid we were most worried about, he is doing really well! He is the one in our family that desires to reach out and start a conversation anywhere we go and is growing quite confident in his Spanish. Kason continues to be challenged in his classes here. As we wrapped up the school year in November, he still wasn’t understanding all that happens in class. He continues to miss homework that is given out verbally but works hard at what he has been given. His Spanish has improved quite a bit over break, so he will understand more when the 6th grade starts up in January. We are also learning that a huge driver for his desire for sports are the relationships that he has through playing. He doesn’t just purely like sports for the physical activity – it is a social thing for him and that’s okay. With that being said, it is a little harder to motivate to get him to sports where he doesn’t have friendships and that is why school activities are the best for him.
I am not going to lie, Kason has had a few tears missing Hesston, his friends back home, and missing baseball. When his friends called him from the baseball field on his birthday, he became jealous and sad, yet was so happy to see them. He is learning how to enjoy days and find the best in things, even though he has conflicting feelings. When people ask it is hard for him to say he loves it here because in his mind that means he wants to stay or it means he doesn’t want to go back to Kansas, and he does… and we know that. He does however love being here and will tell me when we are having our mom-son dates and he loves what he is being exposed to. He has also been in a better groove over the last few months, which is an answer to prayer!! From our child who had so much resistance, to our child who is learning to appreciate this grand opportunity, we are thankful!!