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.