Rants & Raves

Kids, Autumn

The season has definitely shifted into autumn, and I’m enjoying the view from our backyard. A little sprinkling of snow on the Andes, crisp air and golden leaves. I’ve always loved fall and the vibe of structure and productivity, change and beginning.

It has been a long transition for us to finally arrive at a peaceful rhythm of school and work. The earthquake kicked us into the distinct mode of get-to-it-ness that has swept the nation. All over the country, Chileans work on reconstructing of roads, homes, churches and businesses.

Meanwhile, our kids are working really hard in school, learning Spanish, and projects at home.

Carlos is amazing. He is so happy, and has surprised me so much this year, really jumping into this reality with a great attitude. Sometimes he misses his old school in China, but as he gets used to the Montessori environment and learns more Spanish by the week, he finds more to like about it. He’s kind of advanced in math, and as it is nonverbal, he continues to make progress. But he also has to do lots of reading, writing and verbal expression to the class, rising to each occasion. It surprises him a bit that he can now understand the Spanish comic books we bought months ago. Now he is writing his own comic book in Spanish, a farce with an anti-Indiana Jones crime fighter who keeps losing his hat. Carlos claims to be motivated solely by money as he wants to sell these masterpieces, but Forest and I are just thrilled that he likes expressing himself this way.

Caetano just turned 7! We had a fun little birthday party with three friends–all bilingual boys. He had to learn the guys’ names to invite them, and realizing he does have buddies helped his attitude about school…a little. Forest and I have had many meetings with the teachers and after about a month we all decided that he can’t handle being at school for an 8 hour day. No surprise there. I didn’t really anticipate however that we would be going back to a pre-school schedule of 8:30-12:30. After lunch he is just a general nightmare to have in the classroom. So now I pick him up, we eat at home, do homework and some Spanish work from a Kumon tutor that meets him twice a week. We do craft projects, bake, read, play a game. Whatever we want! Last week we went to a park in the city and rode bikes for 2 hours. Sometimes he just plays on his own, building a fort out of cushions or curls up with a book. He started an art class that he loves. The school asked us to take him to a psychiatrist to asses whether he has ADHD or Oppositional Defiance Disorder or what. We’ve been down this road before. Same issues all came up in Beijing. I’m doing everything I can, and we are really having a lot of fun. In his own way at his pace, he’s learning a lot, and chattering a lot in Spanish. Funny thing is that he doesn’t have a problem with hyperactivity or defiance when he is in the smaller classes after school. Hmmmm.