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.
Thanks for sharing that. Whenever I read your blog I always feels a sense of permission to be the mom that I’m meant to be and to let our family priorities shift with the various seasons we go through. It’s extremely refreshing.
Nice! What a testament to the fact that kids are so very resilient and to limitations only existing in our minds. We share many similar philosophies; we both have background in Waldorf ideologies. We both have traveled with our kids on an educational adventure, although ours took a bit of a mechanical kerplunk. We both sat back for a couple years of chill and let life and experience be the teacher and we both have jumped in with a more traditional approach to our schooling this year. Finally, we both have seen our children emerge beautifully, and no less than fully themselves in every situation, whilst continually wowing us and filling our hearts to the brim along the way. We sure are the lucky ones. 😉
Thank you for continuing to share your journey, stories, family, adventures, insights, perspective and heart, to name but a few. 🙂
Glad to hear the growing pains are ebbing for a bit. But growth happens – ready or not.
your girls rock! brings a smile to my face
I really enjoy your blog. I’m a new reader who first tuned in when you were describing your initial difficulties in getting used to a new school and it’s great to hear how people can learn in so many different ways. Your comment about now raising “four young women” reminded me of Little Women and the Alcott family’s fascinating and often unconventional approaches to education (Louisa May Alcott’s biography is fascinating and an amazing example of “revolution from home”).
Thanks for the happy tears, such a great read, Beth, and BEAUTIFUL pictures of your BEAUTIFUL girls. I say keep braggin, you definitely can!!!!!
Have the urge to respond since I too had the experience of living abroad twice. Not easy and sometimes down right miserable but worth the hardships for widening your own and kids horizons. Life seems so fast here in the U.S. Miss those lazy Sundays. Keep up the great job! If you can read the book “They only Laughed Later” Great stories on women living abroad in different countries.
I’d be interested in the name/publisher of the handwriting workbook in one of your pics. Would like to check it out for my son. Could you share info on it? Thanks! Great post.
hi beth! my family is planning a move to a new country (although not as exotic as mexico!) from canada to Los angeles where my son will be changing from a relaxed educational format to a public (predominately mexican student) school. i draw inspiration from your stories and find it reassuring that my kids will adapt and find joy in any situation i put them in. i also feel a connection to your story, as my parents raised us (three girls) in the mexican mountains for the first few years of our lives. i don’t remember much, but i am always inspired by their adventurous spirit and it has shaped us to not allow fear to stifle our desire for adventure. thanks!
Your daughters are learning Spanish very fast. When I went to school We didn’t study Spanish it was called “Castellano”.