The last of our houseguests left this morning — back to the states, back to everyday happenings, back to holding each other in the ways we do when we cannot be together.
I imagine many of you are in that boat, too (having held loved ones for a moment, then parted ways again). Oh, the ache of heart swell. It’s become a familiar sensation.
I spent the day cleaning, catching up after mostly ignoring my computer for a week (I needed that) and settling back into our homework rhythm (we let the kids play hooky for the better part of the week — no Thanksgiving holiday here, obviously).
I’ve told you how the girls had a rough start to the school year — that the load and academic intensity were new for us and the catch up work quite the emotional roller coater. Well, I am pleased to announce that in just three months time, our story has shifted. It’s still intense, but nowhere near the initial battle.
Estella (5) is willing, eager and on it. Every day after school, she plops herself down, busts out her supplies and does her homework with unapologetic pride. Having held the ideology of Waldorf education for many years (which includes waiting to introduce reading until first and second grade), she is certainly our earliest reader, so it’s been particularly interesting to see such a youngin’ sounding out words and unraveling the mystery. Though I still tend toward holding off a little longer (ideally), it hardly seems detrimental to her feisty little spirit.
Eli (8) struggled the hardest from day one at this new school. Because she did not come to Mexico reading and then spent the first two years at their laid back, no-pressure, Spanish-only Montessori school in San Cristóbal (a truly beautiful thing), she was unaccustomed not only to the disciplined work environment of a bilingual college prep school, but nearly two years “behind” the rest of her class in both languages. Incredibly, you’d never know that today. The girl is KILLING it. She has worked one-on-one with a tutor for part of every school day, busted her tail every day after school with catch up homework in addition to the regular load (resulting in 2-4 hours of study a night) and learned to read and write in both English and Spanish with beautiful cursive penmanship. What was painful and heartbreaking to watch at first (and really had me questioning what we were doing) has created a drive and resolve in her that none of us knew she had. So. Awesome.
Taos (12) is writing full-on essays in Spanish (and English) and speaks with fluency that shocks the locals. She leads the conversation wherever we go and can hardly help but butt in when I’m talking just to move things along a bit more…efficiently. The girl is a natural-born leader and is now picking up French as if it were nothing. Look out, world.
And my Sigorni (18 in three weeks)? One day soon I will share more of our story — fill in a few gaps that I’ve been holding for the right time. As for her educational progression, it’s no less impressive than her sisters’. She’s dug herself out of some pretty deep holes by her own sweat and determination and is set to graduate in May with the rest of her class (I, too, had it together by 17 after an early rebellion). Whatever’s next for her is still yet-to-be-seen, but considering that her passion and creativity have been met with a newfound (and self-made) focus and discipline, there’s really no telling what she’s capable of.
That’s all. Just a little bragging on my girls. They’re all working so hard right now. Some days I’m tempted to throw in the towel, yank them out of all this structure and order and let them run free, trusting the beach and jungle to guide them (yes, I do believe in unschooling, too).
But that’s not what we’re doing right now. It’s good for them to work hard. It’s good for them to learn what they’re capable of when pushed. I suppose our family needed to tighten the reins a bit and learn some collective discipline and rhythm after two years of easy living and more-creative-than-academic learning environments before that. I am once again reminded of life’s eb and flow and the way challenges are the breeding grounds for growth. We’re all growing. I can feel the expansion, too. The learning to mother four young women, no longer babies? The defining of myself as other than mother? The revisiting of compound fractions, only this time in Spanish? What a crazy-beautiful ride.