Tuesday, December 20, 2011

school's out for summer

{Ford was an elf for his Christmas presentation}

It is summertime here in Lima!  The kids are out of school until March.  We are finally wearing shorts and tank tops.  Blankets have been put in the closest until next winter.  All of the windows in the house are open and a perfect breeze is blowing through the house.  And best of all, the sun is shining!

Being from California, we are used to warm Christmases, but it is still odd to be on summer vacation at this time of year.  I think I'm in denial that the kids aren't just on Christmas break.  We have some fun plans for the summer, but, honestly, I'm scared.  I know how to do summer in the States.  The pool, playing in the cul-de-sac with friends, and even a vacation thrown in.  That's all my kids needed and they were set.  Here, in the city, those options don't exist (unless you have a gazillion dollars to join a club or travel).  So, I'm scared of long days with four kids at home.  I'm not sure if you guys have picked up on this or not, but I'm not the crafty, energetic, go-getter type of mom.  I feel like a yard, some sticks, a trampoline, and imagination should be enough.  Unfortunately, so far, that hasn't seemed to occupy my kids as much as I would like.  I am currently working on a summer plan to keep us from killing each other.  The kids have to continue Spanish tutoring on a regular basis and we need to keep practicing math facts, letters, etc. (you've probably already picked up on the fact that I'm not the homeschooling type of mom either, so that will be fun).  We're trying to figure out a plan to be able to go to Krochet Kids once a week.  The space in our current location is tight, so it's not really kid friendly (unless you are little enough to go into the childcare).  The kids have been begging to play soccer again after a year hiatus, so we are going to suck it up and pay for a summer soccer club.  We're going to brave the insane crowds and go to the beach.  And I won't be afraid to use TV as needed.  


I have to admit, though, that we are all relieved to have a break from school.  Well, except for Brady who has been crying most nights about missing his teachers.  Remember in March when he didn't get into the only school we applied to?  And that it was the night before kindergarten started?  Yeah, that was a low point for us.  I will never forget running around in taxis with four kids trying to find a school for Brady.  I was devastated that his kindergarten year wasn't going to look like what I had expected.  We visited five schools and they were all either not what we were looking for or too expensive.  We went to the last school on the list.  Our last possibility before major decisions that could have changed a lot for us had to be made.  And that last school has provided our son with the most wonderful kindergarten experience we could have ever asked for.  Brady's teachers have loved him well and been so patient with him as he not only learns his letters and numbers, but also a whole new language.  He has thrived this past year and found such joy in school.  I will be forever thankful.  God provides.


For Riley and Ford, it has been an incredibly hard year.  To be honest, if there was ever a reason we would pack it up and come home it would be because school here is just too hard on our kids.  We have seen the joy in school be sucked out of Riley and Ford and replaced by enormous amounts of stress and worry.  It makes me sick to my stomach.  We see them only learning to memorize or take notes well and not to be critical thinkers.  Ford is not learning Spanish and will now be entering the third grade completely illiterate in that language.  That doesn't bode well for next year.  Riley says girls won't be friends with her because they believe she thinks that she is better than them (and if you know Riley you know she isn't like that at all).  Between just the two of them, there was at least one quiz or test almost every day.  Did I mention they were only in second and fourth grade?  


I know that we seem crazy for keeping our kids in school here after all I just said.  Let me say that there have been great parts of this year.  Ford has lots of friends that he loves.  Riley has learned so much Spanish and has a near perfect Peruvian accent.  Riley made a few sweet friends and had the nicest teacher who really took her under her wing.  Ford's teachers have been very patient with his lack of learning Spanish.  Our kids have learned a lot about Peruvian culture and the history of Peru.  Ford got to be on the basketball team.


I wish all of the good outweighed the bad, but at this point it doesn't.  I know that it seems there must be a better option if things are really this bad.  Unfortunately, at this time, there is not.  Blake and I have prayed about it a lot and strangely enough we do feel a peace about staying at this school for the next year.  I have no idea about the future, we take it one year (or one day) at a time here.  Homeschooling is not an option and we cannot afford, nor do we feel comfortable paying for, an international school.  We are thankful to have found a school within our budget that has a good English program (so our kids will not get behind in those studies).  And thankfully our kids' main teachers have been wonderful people.  So while we hate the method of teaching and learning, we do love the teachers.  We also realize that we have been spoiled and our expectations are quite high.  Our kids are receiving a decent education and that is still something to be grateful for.  (Because if I was homeschooling, they would be receiving, um, zero education.)  


Obviously, with all that our kids have gone through this year, we are so proud of them.  They never gave up and always tried their hardest.  Ford went from crying hysterically about having to do cursive, to being the best at cursive in his class.  He also handled it so well when his teachers told him, three quarters of the way through the school year, that he needed to start speaking Spanish or he was in danger of failing the class.  Even though he is one of the most self conscious kids I know, he began speaking this language that is still so foreign to him on his teacher's request.  Both kids rarely complained about having tutoring three times a week after already spending seven hours taking notes at school.  Riley, the most social little girl I know, handled being without many friends so well also.  She confronted girls when they treated her meanly and she stood by a friend who was going through a really hard time this year.  She rarely complained about going from being with her best friend everyday to maybe one play date a month.  Riley stayed up late studying without complaining.  And when the soccer coach told her she couldn't be on the team because she was a girl, our girl who loves soccer more than almost anything else, accepted the unfairness of it all with a maturity beyond her years.  This year has taught me a lot about our kids, but mainly this: They are brave and strong.


All that to say, there is a weight lifted now that it is summer.  Freedom probably best describes how Riley and Ford feel right now.  So we are going to soak it up, even when the days at home seem long.  "Remember kids, being forced to play on the trampoline is better than studying for a quiz!"  Yep, I'm that kind of mom.


1 comment:

The Blakes said...

I have tears in my eyes. I am proud of your kids. I am proud of you and Blake. The Blake family admires you all more than you know and continue to learn stronger faith by walking with you on this journey.