Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Continuing Adventures of a Kid In Mexico

It's been a while since I've done a Max update, mostly because he is keeping me jumping and constantly in motion, no time to sit down and ponder his developments. Kind of a "can't see the forest for the trees" thing, too close to him to recognize what's changed.

I guess the number one piece of news is that we are seeing a child psychologist. A few months ago his teachers expressed some concerns about his behaviour, he wouldn't sit still, wouldn't do the work in class, blah blah blah. They said he "got" everything, understood the work but was choosing not to put his nose to the grindstone during class time. I wasn't too concerned, I mean he was four years old, pre-schoolers are not known for their ability to pay attention to something for long periods of time. I became more concerned when another mommy stopped me one day outside the school. She told me that Max was "angustiado" (basically full of angst) and that she was worried about him. He had been having trouble sleeping, nightmares and sometimes night terrors, so off to the shrink we went.

For four weeks she did evaluations, standard international tests to see if we could narrow down a problem area. The tests revealed that he is a very intelligent kid, but that he had some delays with "viso-motor" skills (hand/eye coordination stuff). The psychologist eased my mind when she said he did not suffer from ADHD or any serious problems, but that he did have an attitude problem. (Yeah, you're telling me!) She's been working with him for a few months now, and working with us on how to improve our parenting and the environment at home. We met with the teachers last week and they said they've seen a huge improvement in his behaviour, his grades are top of the class and it looks like things are on track. We're still suffering from bed time issues and a LOT of back-talk, but we're getting there!

As soon as we got the reports and we learned he had some (minor) delays, I hit the net and found exercises for developing skills. We work (though I call it "play") every day on small things, copying patterns, colouring, working with small items like beans of different colours. He's improved immensely and my guess is that if he were to do the tests again he would be at the appropriate level.

While we are happy with his level of education, we've reached the point where his English studies have to be enhanced with some work at home. His classes in school are basically vocabulary, not reading, not writing, no grammar, just vocab. I had my parents bring a first grade workbook from Canada and this is now one of Max's favourite things to do. He's particularly excited because it says "primary" and he knows that he is only in kinder, makes him feel like a really big kid to do primary work. I'm fighting a bit of an uphill battle with the reading in English, he's learned the vowel sounds in Spanish and is doing great with that, but it becomes a problem when he starts looking at English words. In Spanish the vowels have one sound and one sound only, makes reading pretty easy actually. Unfortunately, he applies the Spanish sounds to English words. He'll see the word "make" and sound it out "mah-kay", correct if it were a Spanish word. He's getting frustrated, but I am doing my best to help him out and praise him mightily when he reads an English word correctly. I realize that English reading is all going to come down to me, oh the pressure!

In other ways, he's a darned good kid. Generous, kind and helpful (though sometimes his help is more of a hindrance than anything, anyone ever have a 5 year old wash the dishes? Not only do they need to be done again, but usually there is a small flood that needs to dealt with and soaking wet clothes to dry). He has "chores" around the house, he is responsible for feeding the cats in the morning and he must organize his clothes and laundry. He is beginning to understand the world is a big place and that there are people in other countries who do not live as well as we do. He still speaks of Haiti and the earthquake and asks how the people of Haiti are doing. When he sees street dogs he expresses sadness at their condition and says "Oh mommy, how come nobody loves that doggie?". He reminds me every day that we must recycle to "take cares of the planet" and that the really bad men are cutting down trees for a stupid building when they should be saving the environment. He got angry/sad when the circus was here, questioning why the tigers were in such tiny little cages. He has developed empathy, perhaps the trait I am most proud of in him.

Soo, while he makes me crazy, runs us ragged and is probably responsible for bald spots where I've torn my hair out, I feel lucky to have such a darned cool kid. We are proud of him and are doing our best to support him, encourage him and teach him about the world. Thanks kiddo, Mother's Day was special because of you, being your mom is the most incredible thing in the world.


Thomas Johnson said...

It sounds like Max may be a bit bored. You guys expose him to a great deal, like the Hati event, environmental issues, and senitivity to people and anamals. He might need more input(greater class load)in school. You wrote that he has responsibilities around the home, well his current school load may lack the challenge for him. Just a thought. Anyway he is a great kid. My wife and I will be in Cancun next month, June 5-12. Maybe we all can meet.

Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado said...

Hi there, as a mom who has raised two bicultural kids in Mexico, I'd like to (tactfully) suggest you don't worry too much. Your son is four and it sounds to me like he's already doing many things beyond his age. My two were as different as night and day... they both learned skills as they were ready. I know I too agonised over their English skills, whether or not they'd be able to make cross cultural transitions if they had to. We too made the trek to the psychologist and guess what? Both of them did best when my husband and I relaxed and let them follow their own natural inclinations. We did go through rocky patches but both of them ended up on the Dean's List at University (one here, one in Canada) Both of them are well adjusted and now on the verge of starting their own families. Nothing worth the effort is ever easy and raising a child is THE most worthwhile pursuit there is. Take it easy and you'll see that if you love him and he knows it... he'll be fine.

Dr George Leddick said...

One of the best ways to encourage Max to read is to read him bedtime stories. Once he begins reading to himself, he will then beg for "one more chapter" before he must turn lights out. This is also a fun time for you. My favorites are: The Giving Tree, Velveteen Rabbit, Goodnight Moon. Among my fondest childhood memories is that whenever I was sick, my dad would tell me the story of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza, making it up as he went along. I think we had run out of books at the time!
There is a fun computer game called Reader Rabbit where you score points for recognizing a word quickly. Reading is wonderful, once the images it creates forms a movie inside your head.

Mic said...

You are most Wonderful parents to recognize when a little corrective action is warranted and look for guidance instead of ignoring it. Max can't teach himself very easily and these are his formative years. He is such a lucky boy to have you and Miguel as parents. Good Job!!

Thanks for the Max update. I always look forward to them :-)

CancunCanuck said...

Thomas- "Boredom" was one of the things we discussed with the psych and the teachers and everyone seems to agree that it plays a role in what's happening. There is a lot of repetition in the classroom, I remember being pretty bored with that as a kid myself. Thanks for your comment, hope the time leading up to your trip moves quickly! :)

Joanna- Thank you, I think sometimes I get myself so anxious about doing all the right things as a mom, I do need to be reminded to "chill out" and trust that what we are doing is right. It's all done with love and encouragement and support, I think we're on the right track. It's important to evaluate and see where things are going, but I thank you for the reminder to step back and appreciate what we've got too. :)

Dr. George- We read to Max quite a bit, especially before bed. He's got some faves (Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are and some books in Spanish that he asks Daddy to read over and over). He knows the stories and he loves to tell us what is going to come next. I'll check out Reader Rabbit, thanks! I'm a HUGE reader myself, so sometimes I'll pull out my book and ask him to pick one out for him and we'll read "together". He knows how much I love to read and I hope that gets passed on to him! Thanks for your comment!

Mic- Thanks so much (though Hubby is asking who "Miguel" is, HAHA, his name is Jorge). :) Appreciate your thoughts, thank you!

Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

Glad to hear you're getting "issues" dealt with early. I had similar problems and off to the child psych I went. It was a great experience and was really helpful later in high school because I wasn't afraid to ask for help when I REALLY needed it. It's something I've never taken for granted, and even if Max gets past this and never sees anyone again, it will be worth it!

Sounds like he's a GREAT kid overall. Good job mom and dad!

CancunCanuck said...

Kelly, thanks so much, I think it's important that Max know he can ask for help anytime. Hope you are well my dear!

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