Tag Archives: parenting in Mexico

Some Unconsidered Aspects of Physical Training–Soccer

My husband and I are active but have never considered ourselves athletic. We don’t follow sports on television or attend sporting events. So when our son started showing an interest in soccer, we didn’t take it seriously at first.

Being an only child meant that he was frustrated in his attempts to practice different soccer moves he had seen on youtube. It seemed important to him, so I promised him 15 minutes daily of my time. During those 15 minutes, he would show me how he wanted the ball sent his way, and he would make the concerted effort to block or capture it.

After a few weeks of this, he asked if he could join a soccer team. I told him that if he found a team, he would need to let us know about the costs and training schedule and that we discuss it. Meanwhile, he redoubled his efforts in our “practice.” I happened to go with him and his friend one Saturday to the park, and it changed what I thought about his level of interest in soccer. The boys watched the game and during half-time, used the field while the players rested. Every 30 minutes, they had 5-10 minutes to play. Yes, my son could be on a soccer team if the opportunity presented itself. Any kid that would patiently wait out a game just for a few minutes on the field was serious about playing.

first game

The object of athletics and gymnastics should be kept steadily to the front; enjoyment is good by the way, but is not the end; the end is the preparation of a body, available from crown to toe, for whatever behest ‘the gods’ may lay upon us.–Charlotte Mason

One of his classmates said that his team had an opening and asked my son could go and talk to the coach. Desperate, he asked if he could go. I said yes with the understanding that we would know exactly where he was at all times and that he would get the information about the cost of uniforms, salary for the coach and times for practice. The coached allowed my son to join the team. There were no fees involved. The uniform and socks could be obtained for under 100 pesos in el mercado (market). So much the better.

Training would be Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30. I rearranged my afternoon class schedule so that I could take him to the field. My husband then would pick him up after he finished work. He gave the coach 2 small photos and a copy of his birth certificate so that a credential (identification) could be made. He used his savings to buy a pair of soccer cleats, and he was all ready to go.

His first game was on a Sunday morning. He was nervous–really, really nervous. He also had a bit of a cold. We did our morning chores (See A Day in the Life) and headed to the playing field. Unfortunately, the team played in Uriangato which is quite a distance from La Yacata. A half-mile from the field, we ran out of gas. My husband went for gas, my son went in the direction of the field, and I waited with the car. Of course, being late didn’t help his overall confidence any.

He played in the second half. He was the newbie and all. He didn’t do very well, but his team won the game, so no real harm was done. I waited to see if he wanted to throw in the towel or give it another go. He opted to head to practice on Tuesday.

first goalie game

In all matters physical exercise it is obvious to us that––do a thing a hundred times and it becomes easy, do a thing a thousand times and it becomes mechanical, as easy to do as not.–Charlotte Mason

His real dream was to play goalie. He managed to talk the coach into letting him try out for the position. The coach seemed suitably impressed. After a few weeks, he switched uniforms with the present goalie. His self-esteem was sky-high. Then the coach asked if he would be interested in playing with the juvenile (teenage) team that he coached. My son regretfully declined. But the coach asked again, as did several of the big boy players. We agreed he could play with the understanding that he would only be able to go to practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays like he had been doing–no additional training days. He agreed, and two teams practiced together on those days. Even so, the juvenile team played on Saturdays, so it did add another game day to his schedule.


He knows that to be cleanly, neat, prompt, orderly, is so much towards making a man of him, and man and hero are in his thought synonymous terms.–Charlotte Mason

With two weekend games, he has had to become more responsible for his uniform. We wash on Sunday mornings (See After Ecstasy the Laundry), but that doesn’t allow enough time for his uniform to dry. So he has now developed the habit of washing his uniform himself right after the Saturday game and hanging it out to dry so that it will be clean and presentable for the Sunday game.

It is inconvenient. The practice and playing fields are quite a distance from our home. It is expensive. My son bought 5 soccer balls in as many weeks, the original uniform, two pairs of cleats, two pairs of gloves, shin guards and then shorts for the new team uniform. We just don’t have the money to spare, so my son has purchased all of the items from his savings. It is time-consuming. We had a pretty full schedule already. There are so many things that just have to be done that there isn’t a lot of time for things that we want to do.

Habits of behaviour; habits of deportment, habits of address, tones of voice, etc., all the habits of a gentleman-like bearing and a kind and courteous manner, fall under this head of self-discipline in bodily habits.--Charlotte Mason

Habits of behaviour; habits of deportment, habits of address, tones of voice, etc., all the habits of a gentleman-like bearing and a kind and courteous manner, fall under this head of self-discipline in bodily habits.–Charlotte Mason

I worry about his safety, in particular with the bigger boys. The players are fairly aggressive, and near-fights happen as players are fouled. I worry when the ball hits his face, or a player kicks him. Then I realized that his team’s whole focus is protecting the goal, which is in essence, protecting my son. My worry eased. I worry when I drop him off for practice. The practice field isn’t exactly in the best neighborhood. Then I realized that I won’t always be able to protect him from the world and that he has quite a bit of common sense that could be relied on. (See Independence vs. Safety) I worried less. I worry about the habits he might pick up when I hear the other players call each other “guey.” Then I realized that he has already learned in which situations such informality is permissible. No worries!

Even with these negatives, as I watch my son play, I know that it is the right thing for him to do. His pre-teen awkwardness becomes grace on the field. He is learning to find joy in success and to handle disappointment with style. He is learning how to become one part of a whole. He is learning to find pleasure in his youth and a well-trained body. Most of all, he is learning balance. There is a time and a place for everything, including sports.




Filed under Carnival posts, Education, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms

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.

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.





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!



Filed under Carnival posts, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms

Independence vs. Safety

whats in the backpack

My little guy has grown into a big guy. At 10 going on 11, there are new challenges in parenting. Our most recent being, how to let him have more independence while still keeping him safe.

As you may have noticed, safety is a serious issue where we live. Those in charge of law enforcement, often can not be trusted. Then with the proximately of the Michoacan-Guanajuato border, there are the Michoacan bad guys that make raids in our area then skip back to their own territories. It’s hard to say who the bad guys are sometimes.

Up until this point, we drove our son to his class at 2 pm and picked him up at 6:30 pm on the moto. However, wishing to be more independent, he has decided that he would walk to school and back home. As he arrives after dark, I wait anxiously at the window until I see him trot around the corner. I worry about bullies or careless drivers. However, there are more worrisome things than these here. My son has been subjected to random backpack searches by Los Federales, (Federal police) on the way home from school. It makes me nervous, to say the least, not that he might be carrying weapons or drugs, but that a frustrated Federal might take out his aggression on my little boy.

Gangs are also problematic, although I expect not as bad as say, Los Angeles, California, USA. Here we have Sur 13, Los Zetas (Z) and La Familia (the mafia). Most of Moroleón is controlled by Sur 13. For the most part, they are in the employ of Los Zetas or La Familia, in a sort of a dog-guard capacity. They don’t start trouble but stand guard on the corners one of these groups wishes to have monitored. Periodically, they are sent as decoys for the Federales (Federal police) to come and hassle and pick up for petty drug-possession, while a bigger transaction occurs on the other side of town. Typically, they are compensated for their time in el bote (jail) and out on their corner watch the next day.

Being initiated into Sur 13 is as bad as you might see on TV. My husband’s nephew L was inducted about 2 years ago, and it nearly cost him his life. The 13-second beating by gang members that he was subjected to damaged a good portion of his liver. A week or so later, after eating some particularly greasy chicharrones (fried pig skin), his liver stopped functioning. He was taken to the Regional Hospital, where he was basically given up for dead. Only one doctor thought he could be saved because of his youth, just 17. The doctor had him transferred immediately to León, a state-of-the-art hospital facility. L survived, however, he has permanent liver damage.

Right now, my son is too young to be considered for gang membership. However, there are sort of junior gangs that hang about other corners, watching and learning from a distance. Obviously, in our family, this hanging about business is discouraged with liberal doses of study and work. Perhaps he might remember what happened to his cousin and if the time comes when he has such a decision to make, hopefully, he chooses a wiser course.

The next level up in the gang hierarchy are Los Zetas. They are found mostly across the border in Michoacan but have their representation here. They are known for telephone extortion scams. They have contacts within the community, typically at banks and money-wiring places like Western Union. They use the information from these sources to make phone calls to those who recently received money from the US. They may say that one of the victim’s family members has been kidnapped, usually a daughter. Then they might have a female voice screaming or asking for her mommy in the background to prove that she has been kidnapped. If X amount of money is not deposited to X account by X time, then the family will not see her again. The fear occasioned has led to the defrauding of countless families.

Another ploy is that the person who answers the phone is the intended target. The caller may say that the victim is being watched, that their location and the location of their loved ones are known, and then begin asking leading questions in the hopes the victim may give away his or her present location. Again, the fear and intimidation are incredible leveraging tools, and the victim is not only defrauded, but their sense of security shattered.

Phone safety has repeatedly been stressed at our home. My son is NOT to answer any unknown caller. His newly acquired phone is NOT to be shown even to his friends but hidden away in the secret compartment of his backpack. He is NOT to spend all his saldo (pre-paid phone money) in case he needs to call one of us in an emergency. I hope it’s enough.

La Familia is the mafia and has branches wherever you might go in México. They are not the law, they are their own law. They have wealth and power and prestige. Reportedly, La Familia was the authority that had the traffic camera deactivated at the corner where my mother-in-law was killed. Her death was not mafia related. However, this inactive traffic camera contributed to the subsequent cover-up by the police.

My husband’s youngest brother C is a gang member wanna-be. But if he really wanted to be, I expect he could go through the initiation just like the regular members, so maybe he is happy with his wanna-be status. He gets himself Sur 13 tattoos and talks big. This has caused him trouble. Once, while intoxicated, he threatened a member of Los Zetas with the wrath of La Familia. The Zeta backed down and left. Two days later, he was back. He ran C down with his truck, destroyed his moto, and put him in the hospital. Word on the street was he had investigated C’s boast, found that he was unknown to La Familia and decided he needed to be taught a lesson. C has since recovered but doesn’t leave the house these days.

My husband’s sister’s young boyfriend has also been involved in gang activity. He isn’t so smart either and seems he had broken in and stolen items (most likely drugs) from a house owned by La Familia. He fled Moroleón and tried to cross the border to the US to avoid retribution, and my husband’s sister went with him. They stayed away nearly a year. I’m not sure what deal was made, but eventually, G was permitted to come back, tail tucked between his legs, and L came trotting along behind him.

Apparently, he didn’t learn so well the first time, because recently he has been warned again, this time with the removal of several of those ‘sticky’ fingers. He again tried fleeing but was unsuccessful in escaping to the US.

Where I grew up, we didn’t have any sort of gangs, so really I haven’t a clue how to help my son make good choices with regard to gang membership and dealings. I have to trust that these examples his extended family has provided, and some perhaps his own classmates might yet provide, will keep him safe from harm. But things are just so uncertain, and I worry.




Filed under Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms, Safety and Security