Saturday, May 26, 2012


There were many things to love about the world of Totem today.

It was Luggage Day.  This is the day when artists, family members, technicians, kitchen and office staff find ourselves on common ground, hauling Too Many Heavy Suitcases through hallways and elevators and onto curbs.  Swearing that next time we will pack less, and pack earlier, and pack more efficiently.

I admired the Luggage Bus system today ... a full-sized tour bus, which normally just shuttles us back and forth to the site, was also used to haul everyone's stuff.  And each time the bus stopped to pick up more passengers, all the big strong guys already seated on the bus (acrobats, riggers, etc.) would scuttle off the bus to help the new people load their things.  It had a great esprit de corps.

Lunch.  I dislike lunch with the kids on site.  My kids alternate between whining about the food on their plates, to jumping up and down, restless to get outside and play.  I spend thirty minutes basically standing over them, repeating like a broken record, "Sit down. Eat your food." ...nonetheless I took a moment to appreciate what we have here, today.  Lunch is always a fresh-cooked mix of grains, protein and vegetables (which my kids are significantly better at eating than they were when we started touring).  And the typical kid-goofy-social world of school lunchtime - at least it is taking place in a mix of English, Russian and French.

That multilingualism is carrying over more and more into their play times and class times.  As Baz & Ayla's French improves, and some of the younger children are being taught entirely in French, the school is beginning to flow in a more bilingual way - the kids are all able to respond to instructions in both French and English, and it begins to not matter which language is spoken.

I watched them rehearsing their little school play this morning, and one of the most fascinating parts for me was a scene where two characters are interacting - Petr is speaking French (he is French immersion, and speaks very little English) and Anthony is speaking English (he is a primarily-English student who takes French as a second language).  Somehow they decided this would be the best solution - to have each child speak in the language they're most comfortable with - but they understand each other completely.  It's kind of surreal to watch as an audience member.

I was so impressed with Baz & Ayla's memorized lines!  I'm looking forward to seeing the finished version of this play in a few weeks.  It is a Native American storyline, including a creation fable, and authentic music and dance.  (It's convenient to be able to ask our Hoop Dancers for pointers).  They rehearse in the Tapis Rouge tent, which makes for a nice setting.

We couldn't spend a lot of time outside today because there are forklifts zooming around all over the place.  But we did get a few minutes of sunshine, enough for Isa to practice writing her name in English and in Russian.

And by the way, in case of emergency....


  1. When you embarked on this tour with your children being so young I wondered about how much of what was possible to get out of the experience they would be able to get. But their being young must be an advantage with the different languages.

  2. lol on the backup juggler! love you...