Tag Archives: growing up in Mexico

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Today my son graduated from secondary school marking the end of his traditional education here in Mexico.  It comes not a moment too soon.  He’s been butting heads with the school administration about his haircut, his final project choice (transparency in school expenditures) and having an awfully hard time getting up at 5 am to make the trip to town.  Be that as it may, he graduated with a 9.1 (91) which is pretty dang good considering he never did master those dratted Mexican moral value classes. (See Why we sent our child to Mexican preschool and Why we sent our child to Mexican elementary school)

So in honor of the end of his formal education process, I thought I’d indulge in a little trip down memory lane. Forgive me if I tear up and can’t write any more for this post!

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Graduation day 2017

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Hanging out at the secondary school

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First day of secondary school

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Graduation day elementary

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First day of sixth grade

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First day of elementary school

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Graduation day kindergarten

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Kindergarten graduation ceremony

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Parenting Challenges—Almost a man

Little cowboy

My little cowboy

 

Welcome to the May 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Ages and Stages

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about their children’s most rewarding and most challenging developmental periods. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Deciding the stage of development I have enjoyed the most as my son grows is impossible. Each stage has had its own joys and challenges. Watching my son discover the shadows made by his own hand has been every bit enjoyable as seeing him take his first steps toward adulthood.

This week my son will be 12, which in this part of the world is the end of childhood. In the past year, I have seen him begin to assert his independence. Although some might call it disobedience, we have allowed him to answer us with No and I for one, am content that we have provided a safe enough environment for him to be able to say No and not be afraid of our reactions. Sometimes we have to countermand his No, but we do so with negotiation and not with Because I’m your parent…responses.  Or, at least, that is the idea.  I can’t say we are 100% on this as parents yet.

His need for more independence also means he wants to spend more time with friends and less with us. We tried to allow him to ride his bike from home to school, 2 miles each way so that he could hang out with the guys on the way home but found that my husband and I weren’t up to the stress of waiting and wondering if he was ok. So we looked for other ways to allow him more socialization since his friends don’t come out to La Yacata. We drop him off 30 minutes early for school and pick him up 15 minutes late so that he can squeeze in a quick soccer game with the boys. His buddies are allowed to come to the school I teach at on Saturday and hang out, providing they behave. His friends and their parents love this arrangement since they are able to use a computer or play soccer or basketball in a safe and casually supervised environment. We also set up his own Facebook account so he can chatear (chat), although he has to give me the password. This way, I am able to keep tabs on him in the big, bad cyber world, but he doesn’t mind because I don’t abuse the privilege.

My not so little cowboy

My not so little cowboy

We, as parents, take the time to explain to him why certain restrictions still apply. For instance, the no bike to school is not because we don’t think he is responsible enough, but because his father and I worry since he has to pass the police station to get home. (See on Life and Liberty) He isn’t allowed to go every Saturday to his friend’s house, not because he isn’t old enough, but because after classes we have quite a bit to do at home with our animals and we need him to help out. (See Family Hobby) And so on.

This past year, we also have made sure that he has had opportunities to earn his own money. Sometimes, my husband has a job and he takes my son along as his peon (assistant). During Semana Santa, for example, my husband had a 4-day tile-laying job and my son was delighted with his earnings of $500 pesos. Since he contributes to their care, my son also has his own livestock. He owns Shadow the yeguita (female colt) Duchess the goat and any kids she has. This week, he sold Harry, Duchess’s 4-month-old kid for $600 pesos. Another income source for him.

He has shown himself responsible in his use of his earnings, which means we will continue to provide these income opportunities when we can. With the $500 pesos from the tile job, he bought a bridle, rope and paca (bale) of alfalfa for Shadow. With the $600 pesos from Harry’s sale, he bought a 6-month-old female goat, as yet unnamed, with the idea that now he owns two female goats and thus has potential future earnings. We also opened a savings account for him and over the past year he has been able to save over $1000 pesos, not an easy task by any means.

I see also how our family’s decisions continue to influence him in his independent decisions. With his own money, he is allowed to purchase whatever he wishes, yet he weighs each purchase carefully. When he wants to buy a snack, for example, he doesn’t grab a bag of Doritos and coke, but Sal de Mar chips and a Manzanita (carbonated apple drink) both of which fall into the healthful eating categories we have always encouraged as a family.

Physically, as well, I can see how he is growing up. He is now officially taller than me and has more of a mustache than his dad. His voice has its ups and downs as do his emotions. When we have differences, and we do, we remind him that although he is almost a man, he isn’t quite there. I look forward to watching him grow, as I always have.

 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • When Three-Year-Olds Stand Up For Themselves — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at her blog, Parental Intelligence, enjoys the stage when three-year-olds dramatically wow their parents with their strong sense of self.
  • This too shall pass — In the beginning, everything seems so overwhelming. Amanda at My Life in a Nutshell looks at the stages of the first 1.5 years of her daughter’s life and explains how nothing is ever static and everything changes – the good and the bad.
  • How much do you explain to your preschooler when crime touches close to home? — When tragedy strikes someone your preschooler knows, Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings wonders how parents can best help young children cope.
  • Parenting Challenges—Almost a man — Survivor at Surviving Mexico talks about leaving childhood behind as her son turns 12.
  • How Child Development Works — Competence Builds Competences — Debbie at Equipped Family shares how each stage of childhood builds on the next. Focus on doing the current stage reasonably well and success will breed success!
  • Making Space — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is adjusting her thinking and making room for her babies to stay near her.
  • The Best Parenting Resources for Parents of Toddlers — Toddlers can be so challenging. Not only are they learning how to exert their independence, but they simply do not have the developmental ability to be calm and logical when they are frustrated. It’s the nature of the beast. I mean … the toddler. Here are Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s favorite books and articles about parenting a toddler.
  • The Fab Five Stages so Far — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen couldn’t choose just one stage for this carnival and is sharing her top five favorite stages in the young lives of her son and daughter at Natural Parents Network.
  • The best parts of ages 0-6 — Lauren at Hobo Mama gives a breakdown of what to expect and what to cherish in each year.
  • Lessons from Parenting a Three-Year-Old — Ana and Niko at Panda & Ananaso are quickly approaching the end of an era — toddlerhood. She shares some of her thoughts on the last two years and some tips on parenting through a time rife with change.
  • Feeling Needed — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders which developmental stage is her favorite and why. She bares it for us, seemingly without fear of judgment. You might be surprised by her answer!

 

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Parenting Challenge–Creating an Atmosphere for Education

dinosaur track

Often unexpected finds create the best environment for learning.

When we say that education is an atmosphere we do not mean that a child should be isolated in what may be called a ‘child environment’ specially adapted and prepared, but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere both as regards persons and things and should let him live freely among his proper conditions. –Charlotte Mason

I asked my 10-year-old son what he thought he has learned by residing in México. His immediate response of “that to get things, you have to suffer” was not what I was expecting. But he’s right. Everything is more difficult here, harder than you might imagine. So how can I, his mother, provide an atmosphere for education when just meeting the basic necessities of life takes so much time and effort?

How do I create an atmosphere for learning?

I provide options for investigation.

I am a teacher and as such have a natural tendency to provide my son with stimulating games and books at a variety of levels. When my son asked me what happened to the dinosaurs, I had a book already in my home library that offered a variety of theories. It was quite advanced scientifically so, I had him skim what was presented there, allowed him to ask me questions about things he didn’t understand and then asked him what he thought the answer to his question might be. When he said he still wasn’t sure, I was pleased to say that neither is anyone else. Did he learn something from his investigation? Most definitely. When we found a dinosaur print in La Yacata, he went back to the same book to try and identify the dinosaur that made the print. Again, he wasn’t sure that he had the correct answer, but finding the one right answer wasn’t the point in the educational experience.

I allow my son to be involved in economic decisions.

Each of our various business ventures has been family efforts. My son has a stake in what we decide to embark on and therefore, has a say in the matter. He also has obligations to make the venture as success as well. When we had the Crap Shoppe, he learned, mostly from his abuelita (grandma) about doing business and negotiation. I could trust him to make sales while I ran to the store or went to teach a class. This has served him well. He has just started his first outside-of-the-family job. He works from 9:30 to 12 Wednesdays in the mercado (market) selling plastic bags to the merchants. He takes a cart and goes store to store offering his wares. He works along with the nephew of the owner, but after the first day, he told the owner that since he did all the work, he should receive a percent of the sales rather than a fixed amount. The truth was in the pudding since when the nephew went alone on Saturday, he sold next to nothing. My son now gets 10% of the sales.

I set an example.

Adapting to this new life has not been easy for me. I make social blunders all the time. It requires every bit of my focused attention to pick up the cultural nuances and make sense of them. I have stumbled along paths that are not remotely what I had in mind when the journey began. And I have learned from it all. I have pointed out to him that even those people who make me uncomfortable, laugh at my errors or are downright mean, have taught me something. In fact, these people have been some of my best teachers. And that as long as I don’t give up, I haven’t failed. As he moves towards adolescence, with the desire to fit in and just be one of the crowd, I hope that my example will serve him well.

I learn from my son.

We work hard for every little bit we have, and no, things don’t come easy. There are hundreds of small disappointments that make a bit of success so sweet. When I am tempted to grumble and curse about a late night walk home because of a flat tire, my son says, “Mom, have you ever seen the stars look so beautiful?” and I can look at it as the grand adventure that it is.

Creating an atmosphere for education is not providing high-tech teaching material in a child-centered classroom. Rather it is providing an environment that fosters questions and inspires wonder. Nothing new has ever been discovered, invented or learned without it.

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