Well, one of the saddest days of our year (not counting funerals) has come and gone. Our exchange student has packed up and gone home.
She had watched both a season of Survivor and some episodes of the game show “Password” with us during her stay and decided to incorporate some elements of both into our last evening together. First, she made fake money for each of us and then “auctioned” some of the items she was leaving behind (school supplies, last year’s calendar featuring the Dolomites, a fuzzy red Christmas stocking she received from a friend, etc.). My son enjoyed bidding items up that he had no desire to have simply so the rest of us would have to forfeit more of our money.
Next, she gave each of us a stack of passwords relating to her stay with us and a couple of clues we were forbidden from using for each password. For instance, I had the word “Wal-Mart” and was forbidden from using “store” or “groceries” when giving hints to my daughter. We live within walking distance from our closest Wal-Mart and it’s a family joke that we seem to wind up there nearly every day. So, all I had to say was “shopping” and “daily” and the word was abundantly clear!
When we had successfully guessed all of the passwords, she gave each of us a gift to remember her – I received a travel mug containing a photograph of the two of us taken during our last hike together; my husband received a mouse pad with a photo of the entire family together; my daughter got a t-shirt with a photo of the two of them together; and my son received a coffee mug with a photo of the two of them in a fountain in Portland. Then we had the cheesecake she had requested that I make for her last night at home.
AFS, the organization we usually host through, has changed their requirements for how long the students have to be separated from their host families before departure, so we were able to keep our student for an extra night this year. However, morning did come and we had no choice but to load her luggage and a big box of Kleenex into the car on Sunday and drop her off.
The Kleenex box was substantially less full on our return home, and we spent the rest of the day moping around our emptier home. No matter how I try to prepare myself for departure day, it’s always incredibly difficult.