Friday, December 16, 2011

Worth the Effort

Owen smiling proudly on the awards platform

It's becoming a Garcia tradition. Every year for the past three years (see 2009 & 2010), one or more of our children have been honored at the year-end school program with an award for excellent effort.

This year was extra-special.

Not because of the award itself (in fact, Owen lamented that he received "only" a diploma and not a gift like the girls did in previous years.) And certainly not because of the program (which was left stranded due to a power outage.)

But because this year was also extra-tough.

yes, that's his sister's sweater but no, he didn't seem to mind :)

Not long into the school year we met with Owen's first-grade teacher privately. She had been summoning each family one by one, so we didn't think too much of it. But we left that meeting startled and appalled by her ultimatum that our darling son needed to get his act together, or else see the psychologist for his unruly behavior. Say whaaaat??? He had only just turned six years old after the beginning of school (per the Chilean educational calendar) and we knew he had lots of energy but there had never been a behavioral problem with him at school before.

I'm pretty sure my exact words in response to her suggestion about the psychologist- spoken privately to my husband after the meeting - was "Over. My. Dead. Body!" Only when I discovered that almost every other family in the class had been told the same thing about their child did I breathe a little easier, but still it really hurt my mommy-heart to have my little boy categorized in that manner mere weeks into his elementary school career.

who could resist that smile?

As it turned out, after mid-year break Owen's class returned to school to find that their teacher was leaving. No explanation was given other than "personal reasons." The student teacher who first semester did his practicum with the class was left in charge of the day to day operations, with a lead teacher overseeing Owen's class and another class simultaneously. While the kids and parents loved the student teacher, he wasn't given full authority and he did have a challenging class (about 2/3 very energetic boys!) There were other incidences throughout the semester and on more than one occasion we were on the brink of pulling Owen out and commencing home school.

Unfortunately, our son wasn't the only student who suffered through all the changes and difficulties of the year. While we were largely unaware of other dramas taking place, recently we learned that one family actually withdrew their son due to an ongoing problem with another classmate. Apparently when the mother of the one child spoke to the father of the other regarding his son's hitting tendencies, the latter went to the police and filed a harassment complaint against her. Crazy!

Owen was eagerly reading his diploma from the moment it touched his hands

At the end of every school year, we are so proud of our kids. We know it isn't easy being the only foreigners in the mix. We also know it isn't easy being (almost) the only Christians in the bunch.

And this year, we know for certain that it wasn't easy being a first-grader in Owen's class. But he did it. Owen was even voted "best classmate" this year by his peers! We thank God for bringing him through the year, and for rewarding him with this special honor.

We love you, Owen Santiago Garcia!


Cari said...

Congratulations Owen!

Kathy C. said...

What a tough year for him! So much to handle at that age.