Words honestly don't suffice to explain what Andrea means to our family. She is truly a family member, who loves our daughter Toni like a sister with such dedication and tenderness, and has become an integral part of our family unit, and will be, far into the future beyond the two years she's spending with us. For me she is an older daughter, younger sister, and dear friend wrapped into one super creative, kind, talented, organized, loving and caring young woman with the potential to become anything she wants to be in the world. These are in many ways the hardest times any one of us has lived through on a community scale, and it's no small thing to be stuck in a house all day every day with a 2 year old, a sassy retriever and two people in their mid 40s trying to work remotely. Excelling as an au pair in that environment is no joke, and Dre has done just that.
She and Toni laugh and learn through their days, painting, reading, playing basketball, dancing, learning Spanish songs and counting, practicing critical skills for independence, going outside whenever they can.
Dre is constantly helping Toni to discover who she is and reinforcing by example and such deep love how to be a kind, fun, empathetic and compassionate person in the world. It breaks my heart that Dre's family couldn't visit this year, and that I couldn't take her to do so many fun things I had planned, but it feels like none of that could do anything but further underscore what a special person she's is and, without a doubt, the ultimate au pair!
We have all learned so much from Andrea about Colombia- we get to say hello to her family pretty much every day there, so feel part of her life there too, which is really special. Toni is just 2, but she counts in Spanish, sings "La Lechuza" on a loop, says certain phrases, loves Colombian music, and will never question that, through Dre, Spanish has become a fundamental building block of her communication skills. Thanks to Dre, we share a Colombian meal together at least every other week, and we've learned about holidays, daily life and discuss cultural values and differences all the time. Dre so unbelievably generously shared the coffee she was sent from home with us, and even made special coffee for us to share with a dear friend on her birthday, who came with me to get Dre from the airport when she arrived. We have all been inspired by and learned life lessons from Dre and our regular discussions of life here and in Colombia, and will always be richer for them.
As for Dre's influence on Toni, she will always be such a formative part of Toni's approach to life and her story. Toni was 10 months old when Dre arrived. Now she is a talking, running, hilarious, kind, mischievous, singing, dancing, increasingly formed person who mirrors the affection, kindness, balance, wisdom and thoughtfulness Dre models every day. I know we will see those things in her forever and will be inspired by them every day. Special moments- so, so many!! Every first for Dre is an honor and privilege to witness- everything from watching her see the sea, to snowboarding, to her first burger in the US, to paddle boarding together on the weekends. It's not just the big moments, either - Dre makes running out together for a quick Starbucks run during COVID to laugh and listen to music super fun.
Seeing Dre grow herself in wisdom, experience, and resilience at this very challenging time has been an absolutely beautiful thing to witness and be part of.
With Toni, there have been so many firsts that are inextricably connected with Dre- first steps, first words in Spanish, learning to hold crayons, to draw, to paint, most recently, to try to write her name. For Toni's second birthday, Dre spent weeks painstakingly making her a scrap book of photographs and life lessons that will inspire her and be precious to her forever. It is the most beautiful and special thing and made with such love. Routinely, the way Dre thinks about how we can restructure Toni's play space to optimize it for her next stage of development, or voluntarily reorders it herself or helps me to do it is beyond a gift and so kind. And I'll always smile thinking of times when we worked out together, or wrapped Christmas presents, ate too much ice cream and couldn't understand why we'd do that to ourselves. I don't know if these are truly special moments, but to us they always will be because of who Dre is and what she means to our family. I can't think of any better sign that she is the ultimate au pair than her ability to make mundane moments in stressful times hilarious, sweet and cherished family memories.