Thursday, January 19, 2017

On the boys and school

Life is moving along here.  I had a longer class today and the other student didn't show.  So it was la professora & me speaking entirely in Spanish...for three hours. I feel like someone put my brain in a skillet and fried it.

I thought I would write a little here about how school is going for the boys. This, I know, will keep changing as time marches on. I don't want to forget that this was a loooong process, though.  This is hard work. It hasn't been easy.  None of us will wake up one day and be totally adjusted.  But we are making headway.  That's something to celebrate.  With four months behind us, even with all the struggle, I still think putting the boys in a local school with immersion-type language, was a great choice for them at this age.  Not easy. But good.

At the dinner table last night, Jude started quoting a poem in Catalan that he must have learned in his class before Christmas.  We've never heard him practice it.  I have no idea why he remembered it almost a month later.  But it was precious. To hear his little voice speaking what, to our untrained ears, sounds like very good Catalan, was definitely a gift.  (In case you're wondering, the boys go to school in Catalan, which sounds a bit like a mix of French/Spanish. David and I are learning Castilian Spanish.  The hope is, they'll eventually come out of this move as trilingual: English, Catalan and Spanish.) He recited it again for me this morning.  I think you'll be amused.

Overall, he seems to be doing well in school.  We met with his teacher before the break, and she spoke positively about his adjustment and seems to think he is progressing well for his age. The meeting was, of course, in Spanish. But from what we understood, it was all thumbs up.  Jude seems to mark his adjustment in another way.  When I ask him if everything is going ok at school, he assures me that "he never even cries at school anymore." This, of course, is a clue into how much he was crying those first few weeks.  It's tough stuff to not understand what's going on.  Sometimes I want to cry when they send another note home in Catalan.  Thank you, Google Translate.

Socially, he's our introvert, so it can be hard to gauge.  His book intake and love for reading has grown astronomically in this season. We're talking hundreds of pages a month. As a fellow introvert, I appreciate this as a way to de-stress and process a season of change. Recently, I've noticed a definite increase in his interaction with classmates right after school though.  He is more friendly, able to confidently greet them, and seems to be finding his place more.

Silas, our fun-loving extrovert, has taken the move a bit harder than I anticipated.  I though he would jump right in and, out of a love for people, be the fastest with language acquisition.  He has made several friends, and seems to have genuine affection for them.  His teacher speaks well of him and thinks he's doing fine. We even had our first successful Spanish playdate at our house with two classmates.  However, he often flatly refuses to use Spanish words in social situations. To give an example, I'll say, "Go say 'Adios,' to your friend." He responds, "No, Mom. He speaks English." And he'll shout, "Goodbye." To be clear, his classmates don't really speak English, but they do know how to say Hello and Goodbye.  Silas seems internally convinced that everyone actually can speak English, if they want to. This, I find both amusing and concerning.

He had a birthday party on Friday night. It was possibly the worst two hours of my time Spain thus far.  Part of it was simply that the venue was incredibly loud and overstimulating.  It made some of our Indian birthday parties look tame.  He cried because he didn't understand anyone. His classmates didn't play with him. He sat by himself at the snack table.  He would hardly let me out of his sight to talk with the other parents.  And overall, he just had a miserable time. Me, too.

A friend wrote to me after the party to assure me it was a very normal first-party-in-Spain experience and not to be too overwhelmed.  It will just take time. I did promptly check on extra children's language classes though in the city and am considering getting some outside-school language help for him.

As I read that back, it sounds dramatic.  It's really not all like that though.  Ninety-five percent of the time, Silas comes home from school happy and excited.  He has taken the move in stride and while he faithfully mentions and misses his friends in India, he's moving forward in healthy ways. He is learning and growing and he loves his teacher.  He usually only goes for the first half of the day, and spends the afternoon with Asher and me.  He's working hard on the BOB Readers and is making progress every day.  And by the way, he is absolutely one of the most hysterical kids I've ever been around!

Struggle is part of life, and I keep reminding myself that hard things can strengthen good muscles.

It is not fun to watch at times though.  It's not fun at all.  But I am praying and trusting that these hard experiences will build good things in their character.  You can pray that too, if you think of us.


Kelly Brasher said...

First of all, please tell Jude I am so impressed with him! The poem was absolutely perfect! I loved it, but especially the exciting ending! Karen Kingsbury would call his a 'sing-song voice', and it was music to this girl's ears. (Insert damp eyes here!)
Secondly, let Silas know that we (especially Quinten)will be praying for him. I can see so much of my sweet 'middle' in him, so my heart just breaks to hear that he was sad at what should have been an exciting event for him. However, as hard as it is to see now, you are right in that he will be so much stronger from his trials, even at this early age. My Q is wise beyond his years because of 'tough days' like Silas's that shaped his heart in ways we never could have imagined. He will have a greater compassion for others that will one day be in the adjustment stage of a new environment, and he will gravitate to them in an effort to comfort them. Isn't that exactly what Jesus told Peter? "You're gonna get sifted a little bit, buddy, bud don't worry - I've got you covered. You'll be fine. But next chance you get, help out someone else who is struggling. That's the whole point." I'll just warn you now, though, watching the sifting process is tough! (Insert damp eyes again.) However, the long term result is really beautiful...and humbling...and so, so sweet! Trust Jesus, Momma. He can raise our kids so much better than we can! Case in point - a old friend of mine commented on an Odyssey post that Quinten wrote last week for school. Proud Momma here had shared it, of course! She made some sweet remark about how well we raised him. My response - "Girl, it is the grace and mercy of God that shaped that kid! His parents are crazy!" Just bein' real here! Loving you all today and every day...

Salter327 said...

Thank you for the inside look! Your blogs constantly remind me to think about the WORLD. We pray for y'all often. Your experiences in motherhood shape my perspective on things SO MUCH. Thank you for talking about the sifting, I don't like it and I certainly don't want it for my kids. But oh how strong it makes us. Keep settlin' in friend!!

In Definition said...

thank you for those sweet, encouraging words! love ya both!

Sara Nagel said...

Lifting up prayers my friend. I love you girl!

Crosby International said...

Wow, Jude! That's amazing!!

Bonnie Myers said...

Praying for you and your family often, friend.

Joanna said...

ohhh, I so get this too. Jackson seems to be so similar to Jude - introverted at heart, hasn't seemed to make German friends yet (though also surrounded by kids when I pick him up from school - they're definitely curious about him!) and now suddenly extremely interested in reading. He's only in first grade and prior to the move, he really wasn't very interested in sitting down with a book. Now, I've had to loan him my old 1st gen kindle just to keep up with a supply of English books (We just discovered Prime library). He doesn't willingly speak German yet but his teacher tells us he's starting to understand & says a few words when necessary. Other expats tells me that somewhere between 6-9 months into immersion that he'll just start talking but not in front of his parents. We'll discover later at some point when we walk up to him with his friends & he'll be in a full conversation in German. I hear so many parents talk about this moment of surprise and look forward to it!

And my heart breaks for Silas. Brandtley will hopefully start Kindergarten (preschool) soon and I fear it will be rough, though he started a 2 day/week language class last week, so hopefully that will help. Watching your kids struggle & hurt is so so hard. Hang in there and hold tight to God's promises. I know what it's like to have the bad days and makes me so much more thankful on the good days.