Thursday, March 4, 2010

Birthday and School in Mexico

I don´t want this to be underlined, but I´m very short on time and don´t know how to fix it.

Lili had a lovely birthday. Thanks for your calls. I don´t know who called because my caller ID and my voice mail don´t work here, so I´ll just assume you all called and I thank you. We spent the afternoon at Augua Caliente, a gorgeous natural hot spring made into a pool, or five pools. We were the only ones there (besides three cute older ladies) for most of the afternoon.

The trees are painted like this there. Edgar says they think it´s pretty.
At our house. _Lili bought this guitar with the money from Grandma and Grandpa. She loves it.
Agua Caliente. Ruben said it was a kingdom of swimming pools without a king and queen and guards.
Lili, Edgar, and Marcos. Ruben preferred playing with some other kids at the kid pool.
Ruben was teaching Lili to swim. He´s a good swimmer. They had a ball racing each other.
Marcos in his new swimsuit.

The kids also bought balls with their money from Grandma and Grandpa. Ruben´s popped.

Things have not gone as planned today. Edgar walked both the kids to school. I was going to do some laundry if he would mop. The whole house is tile, and believe it or not, is more intimidating to clean than even the clothes. He came back from taking Ruben to school and told me they were having a meeting with all the parents from 10-12! I didn´t have time for that. If I had known earlier, I could have planned, but the meeting was in 1/2 hour! Edgar ironed my clothes and told me we could have sandwiches for lunch (two of Lili´s "friends" invited themselves to our house to eat), and that he would do the laundry (no loss without a little gain) if I would go to the meeting.

Lili´s friends are at our house now. On Monday, they helped her find the bathroom (they were the ones who asked me for toilet paper). On Tuesday Lili said she invited them to our house. I was surprised that Lili would and could do that in Spanish. I asked her what she said. She said all she had to say was "Si." They asked if they could come. They are in 6th grade and I guess they´re just intrigued with the new American girl (who doesn´t talk) and her chatty mother. Every day at lunchtime, they hang around while Lili eats. I wasn´t thrilled about having them come because I knew wouldn´t talk to them and that I would have to entertain them. Lili was so excited about it, though, and as I thought about it, I realized we would be speaking Spanish while they were there. I had wanted to blog this morning, but I had the parent meeting. It turns out, I left Edgar in charge at home. The girls were playing a ball game with Lili and I can blog for a spell.
These are Lili´s friends. They are cute girls. There names are Valeria and Roxana. Roxana lives with her grandma. The grandma met me today after school. I guess I didn´t understand her intention. I told her I would walk Roxana home later. I didn´t realize she wanted to see where we lived first (understandably). When Valeria finally finished jumping rope for her PE class (we had to wait about 15 minutes--she hurried as fast as she could and was all red-faced at the end), we took off. We had gone a few blocks, when Roxana said, "Can we wait for my grandma?" I hadn´t known Grandma was coming, but we waited for her to catch up. I tried to slow down so she could keep up. She was painfully slow. It´s tricky because we had to walk single file since the sidewalks are so narrow and there are a lot of pedestrians. We finally got to the house and I invited everyone in. Edgar was there and was as friendly as could be to Grandma. They got talking and she said, "I'm your tia!" I have learned that "tia" is not a strict term for aunt. It can be anyone with a familial connection. It turns out that Roxana´s grandma and Edgar´s grandparents were neighbors. We had a lovely chat and the grandma left, confident that her Roxana would come to no harm.

Yesterday I spent the morning in Lili´s classroom. It was a zoo! I´ve been rushing to get her there on time, but I´m going to stop hurrying. Kids were streaming in for the first 20 minutes or so. Moms were hanging around, bringing in breakfast, and about half of the kids were eating breakfast until 9:00 or so. The first hour I sat at the teacher´s desk. Bless his heart! He said I could sit there, but that the back is broken. Indeed it is. He has very little to work with, it seems. There was a clock on the wall that doesn´t work. He has 39 first graders all jammed in the little classroom. My father-in-law told us that kids who get expelled from another school get sent to Lili´s school. It would be hard for anyone, and the poor man has no classroom management skills. Lili had told me that a girl was mean to her. Yesterday and today the girl (Cynthia) sat by her and they seem to be friends now. Kids were constantly getting up and running around, smacking each other, screaming, and always at least talking. About half of them never know what´s going on. Many are slipping through the cracks. He gave them an assignment and was going around trying to help them. They had to copy something from the board. I decided to walk around too and help. Some kids don´t even know their letters. About 10 are doing great and get done quickly and then have to wait for the others. Some never do the assignment. One of these, Kevin, was just sitting there. I asked him which column from the board (they got to pick) he wanted to copy. The boy in front of him said, "He doesn´t know his letters!" I said, "I´ll help him." I helped Kevin along and he loved me. The rest of the morning, if wrote something down, he´d run over and show me. Kids started calling me "Maestra!" and they showed me their work and told on each other. It reminded me of my student teaching days in Chihuahua, and I thought, "Maybe I should come and volunteer every day. They certainly need me." I eventually got a headache though. The constant noise and chaos is grating and I don´t think it´s good for Lili for me to be there. She came and asked me to explain everything in English. She came and told me she had to go to the bathroom. I told her to ask the teacher.

I took cookies for the class for Lili´s birthday. When I asked the teacher, he said, "We do that here too!" Ha, Edgar. The teacher spent about 20 minutes on her birthday. The kids sang both versions of "Las Mañanitas" and he showed a little computer birthday e-card to the class. I let Lili pass out half the cookies. Kids started hiding them and saying they didn´t get one. Then they asked if they could have one for their brother, etc. I finally put the rest of the cookies away. Kids kept asking me how old Lili is and if she speaks English. I think they think she can´t talk. Sometimes I think she thinks she can´t talk.

I wish her school situation were different. I thought about trying to get her in a different school, but the other one that is kind-of within walking distance is the one I called first and they wouldn´t allow her to come for such a short time. I talked to the teacher about their reader and how it´s above Lili´s level (by then I knew it is above everyone´s level). He said three of them can read from it. I know Lili knows as much or more about Spanish phonics, reading, and writing than most of those kids. I don´t expect her to learn anything academic there, but she is hearing Spanish for 4 hours a day. That´s worth something. I guess it´s the best we can do for now. Tomorrow she doesn´t have class. I wish we´d known earlier. We would have gone to the beach this week. We are going to go next Thursday morning and the kids will miss two days of school.

So this morning I went to Ruben´s school meeting. It is 100 times better than Lili´s school. There are 22 kids in the class. Quite a few. And they all seem to be around Ruben´s age. The teacher is a bit condescending. The meeting was an opportunity for us to see the kids in action and note where they are falling behind. She would point out students´faults to their parents. That´s a little awkward in front of everyone. I realized that she and I have very different goals for Ruben. I was thrilled when I came in to see a girl grab a toy truck away from him and hear him say, "Es mio!" He´s speaking Spanish! The teacher let me know he doesn´t hold his pencil right. They were doing a counting activity and she was counting for him in English. No, honey, that´s not what we´re looking for. The child can already count in English. I can´t blame her. She´s just trying to do her job and she just wants Ruben to know what´s going on. Ruben has already learned the routine. When the bell rang, he said, "Now we go eat!" His personality is so different from Lili´s. He left immediately to go eat and then play and I didn´t see him again until
I went and found him to go home. Anyway, the teacher is very in-charge and the kids are always engaged it seems. The teacher had several requests for us parents. We need to bathe our kids every day and clean their ears and teach them to clean their noses. The school is in need of more erasers and toilet paper (big surprise). Ruben needs to bring his own cup if he wants a drink (they hadn´t told us). It´s just a good thing we had the meeting. The parents here at both schools seem to have plenty of time to give to their kids´schools. That´s good. There were 18 parents at the meeting. Perhaps the rest of them had more notice than I did.

I have got to go. We are going to walk Lili´s friends home and visit some of Edgar´s family. Maybe if we visit them, they won´t visit us. The last three nights, we´ve hoped to have family home evening and get the kids to bed early. Without fail, someone from his family has come to visit. I eventually just put the kids to bed. Then I sit by Edgar and try desperately not to fall asleep. His Tia Bertha is our most frequent visitor. She is so much like his mom! They look alike, talk alike, and both enjoy giving unsolicited advice about any topic. She told us last night that Marcos must drink warm water before bed and walk a lot to help his bronchitis. As you can see, Marcos is taking her advice:By the way, for an unknown reason, I can´t get a signal on my phone today. Hopefully, tomorrow the phone will be better!


Thelma said...

I love reading about your adventures! I love the tile floor of your house! I love you! I tried to call several times yesterday for Lili's birthday. Sorry we didn't get to talk to her and you. Reading about Lili's school made me sad and made me want to go there and teach. I wonder if I should learn Spanish first. What a grand adventure you and yours are having. I think it's natural that Edgar's family would want to visit him. That must be exhausting for you. I love you. You are a trooper and I'm proud of your spunk.

Take care and kiss the birthday girl and her brothers for this tia.

Clarissa said...

I hate that your phone doesn't work! This isn't Clarissa.